Watch has become more of a style statement than a necessity today. In an interview, Vishal Gurtu, Country Head, Egana India shares the origin, growth and success of the company.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Shed some light on the inception of Egana India?
Vishal Gurtu (VG): Egana India was founded in 1999 when Egana Goldfield of Germany was looking at an Indian joint venture partner to set up its operation in India. Egana India took up the challenge with the distribution of Esprit. The partnership proved successful and Egana India is now established as a leading national player.
NM: What does the brand portfolio offer its customers? Who is your target audience?
VG: The brand portfolio of Egana India is primarily in the market segments of fashion and high fashion starting with Esprit which is a youth cult brand. The success of Esprit encouraged us to introduce Pierre Cardin, Swiss watch brand in the formal fashion category. Carrera is a brutally youth brand for men and women in sports lifestyle and sports fashion segment. Puma is a rage globally amongst the youth, while Cerruti 1881 is an exclusive and prestigious brand, modern yet classic, targeted at the entry level luxury segment.
Target audiences for our brands are the youth and the young at heart. For Esprit, Carrera and Puma, the target age group is between 16 – 35 years, whereas, Pierre Cardin and Cerruti 1881 between the age group of 25 - 45 years.
NM: How many stores do you have? How many of them are franchised?
VG: We have 12 stores in India situated across Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata. All of these 12 stores are franchised.
NM: What inspired Egana India to take up the franchise route?
VG: Over a period of time, we realised that the market was stagnant in terms of MBO (Multi-Brand Outlets) for watches. The space was finite, and the brands were increasing. This gave us a thought that it would be best if we could create an individual retail platform for each of our brands and create an international look and feel. This gave birth to our fashion retail outlet concept called ‘Watches And More Brands’ which are owned, controlled and distributed by The Rose Group (parent company).
Moreover, we took the franchise route mainly because Egana India is a multinational company and multi-branded retail is still not allowed in India and is protected by the FIPB. Till the time, the government does not become flexible, companies like Wal-Mart, Carrefour may not be able to enter India without a franchisee or an Indian partner. This is the reason of all our stores being franchised.
NM: What is the ideal location for opening a store?
VG: There is a lot of psychographic and demographic study that goes into opening a store, but as a thumb rule where footfalls is not an issue and where one does not need to invest money in terms of marketing activities to create footfall, the most preferred location is the mall. In Mumbai malls are burgeoning with flagship stores. These are the safest bet for one to open stores in and around. Secondly, high street areas where we do not have malls like Linking Road, Lokhandwala or Breach Candy also are preferred locations for retail outlets.
NM: What is the eligibility criterion to be an Egana franchisee? What is the area and investment requirement?
VG: As far as eligibility criteria is concerned, we are open to people who are already in the retail trade be it watches or accessories – garments/ shoes/ sunglasses/ and even food as they understand the retail model very well. As far as the area is concerned it is between 400-600 sq. ft carpet area. Investment in fixtures come from Egana, as the company believes that since the idea is to give a customer an overall shopping experience, it is mandatory that the look and feel of the store is world class. The only investment which comes from the franchisee is in the form of merchandise.
NM: What kind of training and support do you offer to the franchisees?
VG: We are careful and stringent as far as the selection criteria is concerned. We carry out detailed interviews; provide in-depth training on company, product, retail industry and soft skills, which are essential for our business.
NM: What are the expansion plans of the company with respect to franchising?
VG: We currently function across 12 stores across India and have plans to open 50 stores by the end of this fiscal. On a larger scale, we are looking at opening 100 by end of next year.