Companies

‘There will now be a brand identity for corporate Titan’

Anil Urs K. Giriprakash Bangalore | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on September 02, 2013

Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director, Titan Company

The international market does not attract us from the profitability perspective, and we are not interested only in scale.

Titan Industries, which completed 25 years, has now been renamed Titan Company Ltd. The company plans to enter newer fields, such as perfumes and helmets, and strengthen its core business of jewellery and watches.

In an interview with Business Line, Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director, Titan Company, talks about the roadmap ahead. There has been a fall in margins in the latest quarterly results. Your comments

I think the gold component (of total business) was higher. Because gold is a lower margin business, you end up with lower margins.

But then we grew our top line by 42 per cent because of gold price. Since gold is a large business (nearly 78 per cent) for us, we ended up with lower margins.

You have talked about consumer sentiment being low. How do you plan to address it?

I think we have been there many times in the past 25 years. Because we have a large footprint in retail and are in several segments, we are more de-risked than most other companies.

At the same time, we manufacture our own products, so serving the market and getting sales to grow is relatively easier. For instance, in watches, our effort to increase the number of retail outlets has reduced because we already have a large footprint. In eyewear, our efforts continue, as we are still growing. In jewellery, we have a reasonably good mix and are refurbishing our stores.

Fastrack is continuing to expand. So, we press various buttons to get growth where we want it to be.

These are annual decisions, not long-term ones. Long-term decisions are taken when we want to get into new categories.

Your emphasis now seems to be on consolidation. Do you plan to re-invent yourself?

Every 2-3 years, we enter a new category.

All these don’t grow to the size of jewellery or watches. But these categories bring value to consumers, particularly through design, quality, reasonable pricing and retailing. If you look at Fastrack, it is not a category, but a segment. We started with watches and sunglasses, and now we are into accessories. So, whether Fastrack is a business or a brand, it has added to the growth of the company.

Only the name of the company has changed because we are integrating all of this. The spirit of company of pioneering, of creating an impact… has been captured in this new name.

Titan is a watch and eyewear brand. We wanted to separate it from the corporate Titan because corporate Titan is what people work for, franchises want to associate with, suppliers want to deal with and it stands for certain value system. So, there was always confusion that Titan was a watch company, not known as making jewellery. Henceforth, there will be a brand identity for corporate Titan.

Have you re-jigged the company internally?

We are integrated and at the same time, differentiated. We have a top management, called the Titan management council, where all the divisions are represented….

The only reorganisation we undertook was in the field, where we brought a single head who now represents the entire company in the region. For example, the South has a single business head, who represents Titan company and he/she is then in-charge of profit and loss and oversees watches, jewellery eyewear and human resources and is called the regional business head.

Have you been talking to the Tamil Nadu Government to buy stake from them?

Well, really it is their call. That is not something the management is involved with. As promoters, they are on the board. The Tatas have 25 per cent stake. But management is with the Tatas, as per the contract. The Managing Director is a Tata nominee and all the policies and processes are with the Tatas. To that extent, we are a Tata company.

You had entered Europe but withdrew. Are you now looking at re-entering Europe?

It is not worth the effort. Profitability is not so high. The size is there, but to make money, we need to spend a lot in brand-building. There is potential in jewellery, but the Indian market itself is so large. The international market does not attract us from the profitability perspective, and we are not interested only in scale.

Are you planning to take Favre-Leuba, which you acquired recently, to Europe and the US?

Favre Leuba is not for Europe. It is primarily for India. We bought it with India in mind. For, it had an Indian legacy and some residual value. We want to stick to Asia for now.

But we own the brand worldwide. Eventually, it will be our answer in the luxury play. But, for the time being, the launch will be in India and it will hit the market nine months from now.

Is Titan looking at gold jewellery exports?

We are seriously pursuing that and it will take us a while to develop a strategy. We had not looked at exports till now because the Indian market still provides big opportunity for we are only a 3 or 4 per cent player. The head room is high for us to take it to 10 per cent. We will look at markets where there is a large Indian Diaspora, such as the Arab world, Singapore and Malaysia.

anil.u@thehindu.co.in

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Published on September 02, 2013
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