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India is a top-3 priority mkt for us: Rado CEO

With many international borders remaining shut for travellers, more and more Indians are buying luxury goods within the country, unlike in earlier years. India’s largely scattered luxury market, pegged at $8 billion in 2019, is hoping for a complete rebound by the next fiscal. Luxury goods, including watches, have seen better Diwalis, Adrian Bosshard, global chief executive officer of Rado, said in an interview, adding that India is a top-three priority country for the company.

How has the pandemic been for your brand in terms of sales? How was the India market affected specifically?

Last year, not only for us, but the entire watch industry, was a very big challenge because we have always lived with retail where people can go into stores in malls and see products. During last year, of course, this was not possible in many countries just like India. It was the worst year since I can look back at my time here. However, we were always aware that it is a temporary situation and we have to keep our factories running. It took more time than we had in mind, but today we are seeing that post covid, life is rebounding.

When the shops were open again and especially during Diwali, we were ready with a lot of communication and advertising and, of course, also the availability of products. We saw that everywhere in the world, especially in India, (there was) a positive rebound because the customers wanted to come back to malls to make purchases, both for gifting to people who are close to them and for their own selves.

Was the Diwali period good for Rado?

The Diwali period (October) for Rado was a record month in the history of the company in India, and this is especially heartening as the people in India had a difficult time with covid-19. In fact, the entire watch industry had a difficult time. This is a great compensation for us because we were concerned but not shocked or afraid. We worked during the lockdowns to be ready for the post covid-19 world.

Gifting is big in India during this time and so the lower price points where we had more affordable watches did well during this time. It was better than the 2019 Diwali for us in terms of volumes.

Where is India placed for luxury watchmakers globally?

For the Swiss watch industry, India is an important country. It’s a country that is in the top 12-15 countries list, but not one of the top five counties for the global watch industry. For Rado, it’s among the top three countries. We have a very high market share and we are dominating our price segment. It is an absolutely crucial market and we have a lot of potential to develop our brand further because India has 1.3 billion people but only 3-4% of the people can afford a Rado watch in the luxury segment. I believe that the purchasing power will grow, and we see many opportunities. Even if today we have a high market share, we can develop the brand further.

Just 3% or 4% of India buys luxury watches? How big is the Indian luxury watch segment?

People are not travelling as much anymore. In the past, Chinese, Indians, even people from Europe, have travelled and purchased from everywhere in the world. But today we see the real strengths or the real situation of the country, and we see that Indians, like all the others, are buying locally. Therefore, we can really play to our strengths. We have always heavily invested in India with 27 boutiques and about 200 points of sales or multi-brand boutiques.

Was the supply chain affected during the coronavirus pandemic for you?

I think the time period to get the shipments was a little longer, but we planned accordingly and ensured that we had adequate stock in the subsidiary. So, there wasn’t ever a problem of supply. Costs of transportation did go up substantially for us. We have not increased the prices, because we have ups and downs and, in such situations, always act in the interest of the customer.

Apple is said to have sold 30.7 million smartwatches worldwide in 2019 compared to 21.1 million Swiss watches sold. Is there reason to worry in the Swiss watch industry?

I don’t see the Apple Watch as a competition to a premium Swiss watch because it is digital device, an electronic consumption good and not a piece of art like a watch.

It’s a computer on the wrist. We even see opportunities there because when young people start to wear electronic devices on their wrist, surely one day they would want to have a real piece of art.

What categories of watches are doing well in India for Rado? Are we following in the footsteps of global trends?

The international collection is working well. It is our top price segment ceramic watch, the Captain Cook collection, a vintage diving watch that is very popular on a global scale too and is priced at about Rs3 lakh. In the beginning we were a little afraid whether this price segment will work in India but we saw that the brand has strengths and also we have an important customer base that is buying such products. Our entry segment watches around Rs70,000 are also working well. We are really doing good sales over our expectation.

You have been working with actor Hrithik Roshan as the face of many of your campaigns. Is he also a global ambassador?

Prior to the festival season, we launched a new campaign with him for Captain Cook. We have integrated him also in many Middle Eastern countries and also in countries where a lot of Indians are buying. It’s definitely also an international collaboration with him in that sense.

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