Cartier plans to expand in India

By Shilpa Raina, IANS,

New Delhi : Like many other international brands, French luxury jeweller and watch manufacturer Cartier is lured by India’s emerging economy and is looking for expansion, but feels the country is yet to reach a level of sophistication.

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“We are very happy with the way things are going in India. But the problem we are facing is that you don’t have a lot of qualitative shopping malls,” Louis Ferla, managing director of Cartier Middle East and South Asia, told IANS in an interview.

“The country, as of now, hasn’t reached a level of sophistication,” he said.

“So we have to be very vigilant when it comes to searching for a location. We want to expand and are looking for a strategic location to open our second store in Mumbai,” he added.

In 2008, Cartier entered the Indian market with its flagship store in the DLF Emporio Mall in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj.

Even after receiving an overwhelming response for its high-end products, Ferla said the company is in no hurry and wants to expand slowly but steadily.

“We don’t go for the short game, we want to be here for the long run. So I want to take it slowly and make sure what we are doing is right. So many times it has happened that there are things you want to do but don’t know how things will turn out to be in the next 4-5 years from now,” he said.

“What I want to make sure is that we are here in India. For me, the Indian market is flamboyant but you have to take it easy to survive in the long run,” he added.

The West may be grappling with the economic slowdown and the future may look bleak, but Ferla is undeterred.

“If one market is having a problem then we invest in the market that is growing because for us, our brand is the topmost priority,” he said.

“One of the strengths of Cartier is we are well distributed in the emerging markets. So even if one company suffers closure, it’s rare that everything collapses,” he added.

“Secondly Cartier has always been true to its DNA and strategy. So on a good day, a lady will buy five watches, out of that three will be Cartiers and on a bad day, if she buys three, probably two will be Cartiers. So, we are less affected than most of our competitors,” he said.

The luxury market in India will continue to rise with growing disposable incomes, he noted, adding that plans were to establish better customer relationships and creating more brand awareness.

“Right now, we want to be closer to our clients. We have a niche audience and so we want to get their feedback and understand them well. It is an exclusive thing but it will help us to increase brand awareness,” he said.

Though Ferla refused to speak about profit margins and revenues the brand has generated in the last three years in India, he is keen on making inroads into Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Kolkata.

“There is a huge potential in the Indian market. You people will overtake China in terms of population in the next couple of years. So you just can’t ignore the Indian market. That is what we are doing,” he said.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at [email protected])