He has designed spectacles for Badshah of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan and businessman Jay Mehta, Juhi Chawla's husband, among others. Angelina Jolie's frames in the movie The Tourist were designed by him. Glitterati all over the world love to sport his frames.

London-based Tom Davies's signature frames – branded TD – include sunglasses, rimless frames and buffalo horn frames. His customised frames are branded ‘Bespoke' as they are cut and shaped to fit the user.

Davies has tied up with nearly 1,200-plus optical stores globally to retail the TD and Bespoke range. In India, the tie-up is with Himalaya Opticals. The TD and Bespoke ranges are available in Himalaya shops in Kolkata and Delhi only. Currently, the TD range available in India is priced Rs 25,000 onwards.

Tom Davies has a workshop in China (Shenzhen) and a design studio in London. A dozen designers and as many engineers give shape to the frames. Recently in Kolkata to announce the tie-up with Himalaya Opticals, Davies spoke to BrandLine. Excerpts:

Other than Himalaya, are you looking for more partners in India?

No. Not at the moment. I have time grow my business here. I am not in any rush.

It (India) is not going to be the easiest market for me. Everybody in London wants to sell in India or Asia or South America. They are big markets for us.

But I want to be sure that I don't make any mistake and it goes right with the local partners. It has to be like that partly because it's harder for me to import my product into India than in, say, Germany.

So once you gauge the market and see how demand is picking up, are you willing to tie up with more partners?

We are looking at Tom Davies shops in India. There could be four or five such exclusive shops. I have opticians who choose to sell only my products (franchises). There I have rimless glasses, sunglasses and you can custom-make them, so an optician selling Tom Davies make sense.

What is the store format that you normally prefer?

Normally it's the wholesale format which we prefer since it has a wider market. Of the 800 opticians doing well, there are nearly 200 shop-in-shop formats and six sell only the Tom Davies range.

I, obviously, want to increase the shop-in-shop formats. I, however, do not own a shop of my own.

What is the sort of acceptance that you are likely to find in India?

The first thing that I asked on day one of the business is who would want a pair of glasses customised for them. As long as the answer is “I Want” we have got a business.

What I have learnt about it is there isn't really a big market for this product. How big and successful it is varies from place to place and the partner that you select to operate with. But the reality is if we work with the right partner, then they already have the customer we are looking for. The price points are already acceptable to them as they are already buying a Cartier.

So as long as the price points are acceptable and there is a successful business (by the partner), I do not see a problem in being in the market.

You currently compete with some of the global big names. How do you see competition?

Everyone in the middle ground is killing each other on price whereas I operate at the top end of the market. The top end is more stable. We compete with brands such as Tag Heuer, Lindberg and that is my kind of market place.

(This article was published on May 30, 2012)
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