All that shines is not gold

All that shines is not gold

In conversation with Sukanya Dutta Roy, managing director, Swarovski Consumer Goods Business (CGB), India, on the reasons behind foraying into the single-brand retail format and her five-year plan for the India market

MADHUMITA PRABHAKAR

SUKANYA DUTTA ROY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SWAROVSKI CONSUMER GOODS BUSINESS (CGB) INDIA

Despite the price of gold and silver skyrocketing in India, customers remain unfazed in their demand for jewellery and accessories; this is what Swarovski India aims to capitalise on. Sukanya Dutta Roy, managing director, Swarovski Consumer Goods Business (CGB) India, indicates that as consumers gain more exposure to international markets and experience new tastes, they are turning towards fashion jewellery, which is available in a varying price range.  This coupled with the fact that the Indian costume and fashion jewellery industry pegged to reach Rs. 15,000 crore by December 2015, Swarovski India is on-track to launch more made-for-India products, open more stores and sort out supply chain and distribution related issues. All this, while maintaining a healthy double-digit growth rate.

In this interview with The Smart CEO, Roy takes us through what designs work in India, where the industry is headed, and where she plans to take Swarovski, five years from now.

What is the brand positioning taken by Swarovski in India? 

Swarovski has grown to become among the world’s leading producers of precision cut crystal for fashion and jewellery and more recently lighting, architecture and interiors. We primarily position ourselves as the premium jewellery and accessories brand in India. The DNA of crystal is at the core of our design.

An evolving consumer is also good news for us because, as gold prices increase our jewellery becomes the ideal option for all price ranges, be it for gifting or for self-use.

Typically, which line of products are the bestsellers in India? 

In India, we see an evolving customer base. A huge hit are the bracelets – slake bracelet and ready bangles. Earrings form our value builders and, the belief is, our signature classics never go out of style.

What kind of challenges did you face when you initially entered the Indian market through the franchisee mode?

When Swarovski entered India, its image was that of a company that produces only luxury products. Swarovski has since then learnt a lot and changed accordingly. The company, in the past few years, has moved out of its previous focus of being located in five-star hotels and has begun focusing on premium locations at mall properties, resulting from its initiative to move into a more premium category and becoming acceptable to a wider range of customers.

Can you take me through the current industry standing, and the challenges and opportunities it poses?

Today, the costume and fashion jewellery industry is pegged to be at Rs.11,000 crore. With gold and silver ruling the market, and there being an increase in demand for such accessories among customers, the industry size is expected to touch Rs.15,000 crore by December 2015. The biggest challenge we face today is the mindset of an average Indian customer towards jewellery. Traditionally, we see it in gold and silver. However, with moving trends and globalisation, acceptance and demand for fashion jewellery is also growing at a good pace.

How does the Indian market compare to developed markets today? What is the need of the hour? 

The Indian market has indeed come of age. Premium retail has become more organised and high street and premium brands have begun to offer the Indian consumers an international shopping experience. The effect of this is seen in the costume jewellery market growing at a 20 per cent compounded annual growth rate in India. An evolving consumer is also good news for us because, as gold prices increase our jewellery becomes the ideal option for all price ranges, be it for gifting or for self-use.

The need of the hour is effective mall management and increase in consumer purchase sentiment.

What are some of the key growth drivers for Swarovski in India? 

Until now, a pan-India distribution, an effective value chain, and strong marketing and retail efforts directed towards customer appeal for everyday jewellery have worked very well for us.

What was the thought behind forming fully-owned single brand retail outlets? How do you expect this to benefit the company in the long run? 

Swarovski has been in the country since 2000 and we have very strong relationships with our dealers. Currently, Swarovski sells its products through 34 franchise stores operated by various partners across India. Going forward, we would like to continue to grow and nurture those. Post FIPB-approval, securing the license to operate our own stores will allow us the window to strengthen our operations in India, increase our level of engagement and investment in the Indian market, and drive our distribution growth for strategic locations.

Where do you see the company five years from now? 

We plan to launch more made-for-India products, open more stores and sort out supply chain and distribution related issues to maintain a healthy double-digit growth rate in the country. We plan to have a mix of company-owned stores and partner stores in the future.

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