India: Leader in Watches

India is a leading producer of watches and is credited with changing the face of the Indian watch industry. Headed by Xerxes Desai, the company’s stated mission is to be a significant and respected global watch, clock and jewelry brand and continue to be the leader in the Indian market and the premier retailer of these products.

Retailed both in the domestic market and over 40 countries overseas, the Titan portfolio, consists of several brands — Titan, Sonata, Dash and Regalia at the upper end. The Titan umbrella brand offers many sub brands that have been designed of focus on specific consumer segments. Insignia, for instance is the high end offering for the consumer who wants international styling. Nebula, is the range of jewellery watches for men and women who like accessories with gold. The Fast track range is targeted at the sporty fashion conscious youth. Tanishq India’s only national jeweler offers gold and gemset jewelry in over 3,000 traditional, western and fusion looks. Tann (body) and Ishq (love) combinations coined by Desai first Vice Chairman and MD of Titan.

Timex: The third of the top trio is Timex Watches Ltd a subsidiary of the $ 600 million Timex Corporation of the US. Timex is the second largest quartz watch brand in the country. The company had entered India with a tie up with Titan in 1992 holding 30 percent stake but the two parted ways in 1998. The company was in the red at that time. Ever since Mr Kapil Kumar has taken over as MD in October 2000, Timex is making its presence felt through some intelligent moves.

Maxima: This company is credited with bringing the less than Rs 800 quartz watch in the organized sector, Our success forced every major company to reconsider this segment that had previously been dismissed as unviable. Today Titan’s Sonata, Timex and Casio are competing with maxima or share in this segment that accounts for more than 60 percent total sales in the watch industry. The company has two new ranges in this segment. One a range of water roof watches for kids called Lil Dophin and a youth rage called H20. These brands are growing at the expenses of the unorganized sector.

This is one segment that is extremely vulnerable to competition from the gray market. How does Maxima hope to cope with cheaper Chinese and Russian imports?

Sharma explains that there is a lot more associated with the watch market than the initial sale. Customers look for good quality, after sales service and support guarantees and value for money that only a branded company with a national presence can assure. A small company Maxima is big on advertising with an adspend of over Rs 5 crore.

The company is leveraging the brand’s position as America’s number one watch by appealing to the target consumer by providing them with innovative styling leading edge designs that deliver high quality with trendy features and a watch that completes their look.

Presently, Timex is emphasizing technology and sporty and high tech to the dressy. The new tag line is: Technology that keeps you ticking The first to introduce the concept of Indigo, the company is upbeat about the technology it will bring to India. Timex has over 2000 models now in the range Rs 375 – 5000 range. However, the company is yet to turn round.

For the year ending March 2002, it managed to prune its losses from Rs 47.55 crore to Rs 25.12 crore. Timex struggled to create its own distribution network after breaking its tie ups with Titan. Its sales dwindled during this period Given its sizeable debt burden, huge accumulated losses. Lack of operating efficiencies and low growth of the watch market, a financial turnaround does not appear a near term possibility. The foreign promoter has infused Rs 37 crore into the company and raised its stake to over 80 percent. Timex has now set up its own distribution channels and is gaining market share.

Source: Strategic Management