Titan eyewear division to focus on new products, store formats
Bengaluru: Watches and accessories company Titan Co Ltd’s eyewear division plans to experiment with new types of products and store formats even as it focuses on increasing its footprint in small towns and cities.
The business segment’s market share should grow by 15% at the least on an annual basis over the next few years, a top executive said. Titan currently has just over 10% of the organised eyewear market in India and there is immense room for growth, the executive added.
Last week, Titan’s eyewear business - retailed under its Titan EyePlus store brand, trial-launched ready-to-wear glasses to tap into a growing segment of customers who are using spectacles for non-medical purposes. It will look at a full-fledged launch of these across all its stores based on the results of the trial run.
“We’ve (created) ready-made spectacles with something called a blue coating, which protects your eyes from tiredness if you are looking at a gadget all the time. It’s more relevant for younger people because...they are using their gadgets all the time and are very fashion conscious,” Ronnie Talati, chief executive officer of the eyewear division, said in an interview.
Once the company sees some traction in customer acceptance and demand for these ready-to-wear spectacles, it might even consider setting up kiosks to sell them in shopping malls, or add them to its Fastrack brand of stores that sell watches and accessories for the youth.
The eyewear business earned Rs406 crore in revenue in 2016-17, growing 8.4% year-over-year. It currently runs close to 500 Titan EyePlus stores and plans to open between 40-60 new ones year-on-year going ahead.
Titan is also planning to experiment with a new luxury eyewear store format in specific catchments. These stores will have upgraded aesthetics and will stock a greater mix of its third-party international brands and higher-end products from its own stable. Titan is planning to open the first of these in Kolkata’s Park Street and will look at similar catchments in cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
Even as it focuses on the niche luxury category, the company also plans to increase its presence in what it calls middle India, i.e. smaller towns and cities, which it considers underserved at the moment. Of the 40-60 new stores it opens, roughly half will be in middle India.
“I think middle India is ready for brands, especially mid-segment brands. It is certainly a market that cannot be ignored and will be a growth area in the coming years,” Talati said.
While the company’s eyewear business started off as a pure-play retailer, over the past decade it has morphed into a manufacturer as well by making its own lenses. Three to six months after its new frame manufacturing facility starts commercial production in January, it ought to be able to make frames for all its Titan EyePLus stores in-house, too.
That will give the eyewear division greater control over its manufacturing line, allow it to design more exclusive frames and, in general, give it room to do a lot more, Talati said. The company should also be able to introduce a wider variety of frames at every price point, in line with its strategy of being present across all price segments.
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