After four years of stagnancy in the domestic watch market, Titan Industries Ltd is witnessing a revival this year. Speaking to FE, company COO watches Bijou Kurien said, "The topline has grown by 18% this year, including a 14% growth that has come during the first six months itself." Titan expects to sell close to 1.4 million watches in India by the year-end. After peaking during 2000-01, the company's sales dropped in 2001-02, because of a combination of excess stock in the market and a sluggish wedding season. In 2002-03, the growth was hit by a partial factory lockout that lasted for over two months.
The company has reorganised its brands based on value (into the high-end Titan and less-than-Rs 1,000 Sonata) and based on users ages (Dash for children and FasTrack, a fashion brand, for youth). Post the restructuring in 2002, the company has separate dedicated sales teams for its two flagship brands, Titan and Sonata. After 1998, when the government opened up watch imports, there was a deluge of foreign brands in the country. However, most of them were fashion brands (Tag Heuer, Pierre Cardin, Espirit, etc) and were high priced, Mr Kurien said.
Rather than eating into its market share, the foreign brands only served to make Titan appear less expensive and therefore more affordable, he observed humourously. There was some overlap of foreign brands such as Swatch and Citizen in one price band with the upper end of the Titan range, he said. While the core watch business has been slow, the watch division has identified other revenue streams, including services, precision engineering manufacture and supply of dashboard clocks to automobile manufacturers.