Haute Horlogerie category watches have bounced back on the retail map with new designs and technology for the younger generation. But a spurt of smart watches in the market is really no threat to Haute Horlogerie – or high watchmaking – brands like Seiko, even though a lot of other brands have jumped on the bandwagon to create smart health devices in view of global demand. For President & COO Seiko India, Niladri Mazumder, the trend of smart watches will remain omnipresent, never-ending.
Mazumder has been associated with Seiko India for close to a decade. He was a key member of the core Seiko watch corporation team that devised the critical ‘Entry Strategy’ for Seiko’s venture into the very competitive Indian watch market.
During his tenure at Seiko India, Mazumder introduced innovative retail techniques for the watch and clock category, which have become an example in retailing not only in India, but also for the other countries where Seiko operates.
Seiko has recently opened a new boutique at DLF Mall Of India, Noida where brand elements of history, technology, luxury and craftsmanship can be found in rich abundance, and focusing on a modern yet sophisticated style. In an exclusive conversation with Images Retail’s Parama Sen, Muzumder talks about how the brand has evolved in the Indian market:-
Seiko is a well-known international brand. Can you run us down its journey in India?
Seiko is primarily affordable luxury and luxury. We started in India in 2007. It’s been a great journey for us. In these years we have grown at a CAGR of 30 per cent plus. We are considered among the top 3 premium affordable luxury segment, perhaps in competition with all the price groups of Swatch Group today. As far as the strategy is concerned, India is among the top 3 markets for Seiko. Anything, which is launched in Seiko internationally, is available here from day zero! Seiko in India sells from 385 stores, 6 exclusive boutiques.
What is your Omnichannel strategy for India?
Online is going to be very important for everybody of any product category. We only associate ourselves with Amazon, the reason is from day one, Amazon was very clear that they would let us build our own brand. We have our own micro site in Amazon portal. We have authorized people who can sell for us. But we are not saying that we will always be exclusive with Amazon, if anyone comes in with hygienic proposal, we are open to it.
What are your observations on the evolution of the premium and luxury segment in India?
Timewear industry in India is created by Titan, though now it is restricted to mass segment only. When the Swiss came into India, luxury watches came with them. Premium segment is growing 20-25 per cent Y-o-Y. Now, with the evolution of economy, the definition of premium, luxury has also evolved. In India, the earlier problem with the luxury was the absence of quality retail base. Due to desperation of selling products, many went to such places, which was not at all equipped with expertise. When we came in, we were very, very clear that, we are going to sell Seiko in the Seiko way. All our stores are compatible with the international standards.
How has Seiko grown across in India? Are you focusing on certain regions?
71 per cent of our business comes from the top 8 metros. The highest growth rates are coming from the Tier II – Tier III towns, which are our prime focus now. That’s where the money is, that’s where the opportunity is. They are starved for variety, starved for service. These are cities which are booming today.
Seiko is known for its innovation. Is there any single innovation that you are proud of?
We have created a special line for India that is Lord Collection, which comprises 25 per cent of our entire sales. This collection is refreshed in every year. This is something, which is not done by any other international brand.