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Longines to tap second rung Indian cities

business Updated: Dec 13, 2007 13:31 IST

Global luxury watch brand Longines, which enjoys a strong foothold in Indian metros and is famously endorsed by actress Aishwarya Rai, is now all set to woo customers in second rung cities.

The Swiss watch manufacturing company, which is part of the Swatch Group, plans to open 20 new points of sale in cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Ahmedabad.

"India's luxury watch market has a lot of potential. I believe in the coming years compared to the US more people in this country would sport luxury watches," Charles Villoz, vice president sales, Longines International, told IANS.

"The country has a huge middle class and a good watch is no less than a major investment.

"Also, shopping malls are increasingly mushrooming in second rung cities where people go not only to shop but also to hang out. And it would prove beneficial to increase our visibility," added Villoz, who was in the capital recently.

The company currently has 68 points of sale. Out of the 20 upcoming points of sale, about five would be multi brand retail shops and the rest shop in shop outlets.

He said places like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Gurgaon, to name some, would get one store each.

"Our focus will be towards the south. The number of young, IT employees marking their presence there makes it a significant market for us.

"Also, the increasing number of tourists visiting Rajasthan from all across the globe makes it an important place for us to mark our presence."

Based on the franchise model, the company will invest up to Rs 1 million for a large stand-alone store spanning over 80-100 sq metres, while spending about Rs 200,000 for a small shop of 70 sq metres, located in a shopping mall.

Growing at the rate of 20 per cent per year, the country's luxury watch market estimates over Rs 3.5 billion.

Villoz said in the next three years it might cross the 25 percent growth rate and the group is "approaching India as a long term investment".

Commenting on the factors that tempt overseas brands to invest in India, he said: "The size of the country, economic boom, the steadily changing retail landscape and the availability of more money with the youth are some of the contributing factors.

"Also, increasing fashion consciousness among youngsters who want to look trendy. For them, an elegant watch would add to the personality and attitude."

And how much does it help to have Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai as their brand ambassador in a cinema crazy country?

"Aishwarya has been associated with us since 1999 and it is a big help. Not only in this country but also globally.

"People across the world love Bollywood films and they go house-full. Wherever we have travelled (with Aishwarya) the response has been overwhelming. She is a global face and we would like to continue this association as long as possible."