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Retail 2009-10-06

Eyeing success

By Sub Editor
Eyeing success

After adorning countless wrists and capturing significant chunk of the jewellery market, Titan is now eyeing at making its mark in the designer eyewear market. S Ravi Kant, Chief Operating Officer - Eyewear Division, Titan Industries Limited tells us about the company’s success in the eye wear industry.

Abha Garyali (AG): Tell us something about the origin, growth and success of Titan eye wear.

S Ravi Kant (SRK): One in three people in urban India need vision correction whereas only one in five people actually wear spectacles. Replacing spectacles previously had been driven by change of power or loss/damage of spectacles but we see an emerging trend of consumers seeing spectacles from a ‘style’ perspective. Titan observed that eyewear was a category wherein there were no national brands. The market was clearly underserved. Titan was also looking at strengthening and extending its brand to other lifestyle accessories. The experience gained from the sunglass brand Fastrack helped it to understand the competition. It gave Titan the opportunity to use its retail expertise, its brand power, associates in terms of franchisees to establish a completely new business. Titan started of its pilot operations in 2007 and within a year of its experimenting, chose to launch its full scale operations in 2008.

AG: What difference have you noticed in the performance of the company after the company opted for franchising?

SRK: With the army of franchisees in watches and jewellery waiting for opportunities from the company to expand, we had a head start in rolling this across the country through the franchise route.

AG: What is the eligibility criterion for taking the franchisee of Titan-eyewear?

SRK: We are open to new franchisees in this category as we are expanding fast and across more than 100 top towns. The franchisees we opt for should have a strong retail experience and should be ready to spend personal time at the outlets.  Of course, property at a good location, strong reputation in the market is desirable.

AG: How many franchises do you presently have? What all training and support do you provide to them?

SRK: The Titan Eye Plus business is spread across 40 cities in the country with franchised operations in most of them. We spend a great deal of time in training and developing capability of our franchisees to handle a specialty category where knowledge is very critical to handle customers.

AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee in terms of money, time?  What is the break even period for a Titan eye wear franchise?

SRK: We have different categories of stores and the investments required vary. We would expect a key person from the family to be involved in day to day operations of the store. The breakeven period of the store is between 12 to 24 months depending on the category. We plan to leverage the franchising route even more strongly as we move forward to expand across the country.

AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?

SRK: The challenges of a franchisee are largely in the area of motivation and retention of its qualified and highly skilled staff. The only way to be on top of this is to keep the staff happy, motivated and passionate about building customer relationships.

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