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TITAN : NEW DELHI: India’s top jewellery retailer Tanishq, part of Titan Company Ltd, reopened 40 stores this week, commencing operations in permitted locations after a gap of over forty days.

Tanishq will ask shoppers to seek appointments before coming to their stores, and encourage cashless payments, it said.

The retailer will also sanitize its jewellery after every showing, in what are fresh internal safety rules laid out by the jeweller as it commences operations with caution. Tanishq has 328 stores in India.

Ajoy Chawla, chief executive officer, Jewellery, Titan Company, expects a total of 50 stores in 35 cities to be operational by the weekend, with another 10-15 opening up over the next few days. "These are those cities where we are getting permission from local authorities, that has been the ramp up so far," said Chawla.

However, its factory in Hosur, Tamil Nadu, that received permission to start business on Friday will take some time to increase production.

“Our factory has only received permission today to open and start exploring production, it will be a slow ramp up," said Chawla. "Initially, maybe we will begin with 30% of people, and some departments will be functional and we will build up capacity over the next few days," he said.

Chawla said the jeweller has enough inventory at its stores for now. However, the retailer has deferred two of its collections planned for the first quarter to a later date.

Retailers that are resuming store operations are now doing so with caution as covid-19 has impacted consumer demand, and also pushed retailers to lay down strict safety and social distancing guidelines going forward.

As a result, companies have had to re-look at store layouts, minimize contact between shoppers and employees, opt for online payments, even they plan more robust offerings online.

While Chawla says the layout of the store has not been changed, it has restricted areas where shoppers can sit. “The store looks the same, the layout is same, however, we have blocked off certain seats, we have put ‘x-cross’ placards where people can sit and where they cannot. There have been some changes on the cash desk, where we have made markings on the floor to ensure distance in queues," he said.

Tanishq will require customers to wear disposable gloves and masks, ensure thermal screening, and register their details besides setting up appointments for shoppers willing to visit its stores.

Chawla said, for now, the retailer will not roll out any fresh offers as it focuses on resuming operations. "Demand stimulation will need to happen only once a large number of stores are open," he said.

Earlier this week, Titan’s eyewear division, too, resumed operations at 109 stores that are located in designated green zones. The layout has been tweaked to ensure sufficient social distancing for a safe shopping experience. “We are currently operating with lean manpower and in rotational shifts. Only the staff members who have private vehicles have been allowed to join work," Shalini Gupta, head of marketing, eyewear division, Titan Company Limited said. The retailer is operating at 50% of full staff strength, said Gupta.

Titan that retails jewellery, eyewear, and watches and wearables began shutting stores on 22 March.

Countrywide lockdown has impacted business at the retailer. In its fourth quarter update last month, the company said that “consequent to the serious disruptions in operations in March, revenue growth for the quarter and consequently for the year has been impacted severely."

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