By Nivedita Sharma New Delhi, May 21 (Agency)
International brands can generate job opportunities if their entry into India is facilitated, says Montblanc, a century-old German company known for its timeless luxury pens, watches, eyewear, leather goods and fashion accessories.
"For an international brand, the Indian market is extremely strong. It is a developing and emerging market and I believe it will continue to grow," Karl Handke, Montblanc's president for the western hemisphere, told.
"One of the main problems a brand faces while retailing in India is the laws, duties and taxes. The import duty on luxury goods is high, making it difficult for international brands to enter India. If more international brands enter India, it will only be beneficial for the country since it will provide for more employment opportunities," he added.
Hadke handles sales and marketing for the brand in Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Middle East and India.
He was here to launch the brand's Grace De Monaco collection, which includes limited-edition jewellery, writing instruments and time pieces for women.
The brand has a presence in 10 cities - including New Delhi, Mumbai and Ludhiana - and is definitely looking for expansion. However, the restricted number of luxury malls is hindering the expansion plans.
"We are definitely looking to expand our retail network extensively.... India, as compared to other countries, yet has few luxury malls and no high streets like Madison Avenue or a Barneys (in New York); so this, of course, limits our expansion," the 61-year-old Hadke said.
"But we are looking at tier-two cities with wealthy and cultured people. We are also opening boutiques at airports, starting with Hyderabad. At the moment our priority is Calcutta (Kolkata) where we do not have a stand-alone Montblanc boutique. We are planning more stores in New Delhi," Handke added.
The brand, which started producing writing instrument 100 years ago, is now also into watches, leather goods and accessories. Handke says expansion notwithstanding, they never compromised on brand's aesthetics.
"We have never compromised in terms of brand value from the past to present. Even while venturing into new categories, we carefully selected the product segments which we wanted to occupy and made sure that they are in line with the brands DNA," he said.
"Today Montblanc is a luxury mason, which helps cultured people to express their lifestyle through beautiful products," he added.
Any plans to foray into apparel?
"No, we do not wish to foray into apparel... Clothes are something which are in fashion today and outdated tomorrow. We believe in creating products which are timeless and classic. Our products are family heritage and clothes can never be that," Handke concluded.