‘Pakistan is an evolving market for int’l luxury brands’

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TAG Heuer, a globally acclaimed Swiss brand producing high-end luxury watches since 1860 especially in the field of chronographs and ultimate precision, is fast expanding and therefore clinching new milestones in Pakistan which the company officials believe is a small but evolving market for its high quality products.
Franck Christophe Dardenne, General Manager of LVMH Watch & Jewellery India, was in recent weeks invited to Pakistan to conduct the business review meetings and explore the growth opportunities for TAG Heuer in Pakistan, a developing economy and an emerging market for internationally recognized brands.
Pakistan Today had had an exclusive interview with Franck who has been affiliated with Tag Heuer from over a decade having worked first in the company’s head quarter in Switzerland, then in Japan. Now he has been appointed in India as a regional head.
To Franck, Pakistan is a country of great potential for Tag Heuer’s watches the current annual selling turnover of which stands at 1000 pieces. This turnover is remarkable if viewed in the backdrop of sky-high prices of Tag Heuer’s luxury watches the retail prices of which, according to Franck, range from Rs 120,000 to Rs 250,000.
“The average price of Tag Heuer’s watches is Rs 200,000 plus,” Azam added.
Franck was impressed with the new shopping malls being coming into existence in Pakistan specially the Dolmen Mall. “You have new shopping malls to come in like go to the Dolmen Mall. So we see a gradual step-by-step development in our products sale.”
“Yeah for sure” Franck replied when asked if his company had a plan to expand its business network in Pakistan. “We would at least double it in next three years, because we see that it would be a significant economy. So we are seeking now to take a position here,” the general manager said.
“Besides this, the customers (here) like us,” he added.
Urging the open-minded Pakistani customers to buy more and more of Tag Heuer products, Franck said his side was engaged in Pakistan in a transparent manner expecting greater returns.
“We import everything cleanly and we are the only key luxury watches brand today. We just have chosen to work in such an open-minded, clean and efficient way.
And doing so we really expect a great return on this because we treat Pakistani customers with highest respect,” he said.
Franck places Pakistani market on second in the seven-country South Asian region after India which has one of the world’s largest consumer bases. He said Tag Heuer had 24 points of sales in Pakistan, five in Sri Lanka and two in Nepal.
“The worth of Pakistan is much more higher that you can’t compare it with Bangladesh, Nepal or other regional countries,” he said.
Pakistan, he said, is currently 10 percent of India in terms of Tag Heuer’s sell. “In next three years it should be about 15 to 20 percent.”
Terming Pakistan a “small” but “evolving” market where Franck said all his side had to do was to find out new selling outlets for its watches.
This part of the world Franck said was providing a unique chance for Tag Heuer because many Pakistanis who study and travel abroad may be the potential buyers of his quality products.
Franck sees no security issue fro foreign businesses like his in Pakistan. He said some of the areas may be sensitive in terms of law and order, but taking a big picture of security situation in Pakistan “I never felt insecure here”.
“Image of the country is the worst but I hope your country would be safer and safer,” he said.
To a question on what Tag Heuer is plugging into the local economy, he replied: “We put on sale what we have here through our partners (Speed (Pvt) Limited) and the international brand was behind”.
A rough estimate, he said, may be $300,000 a year his company would, approximately, be investing in Pakistan. “This is for strengthening our presence and to make the Tag Heuer a successful brand in the local market”.
On having a Pakistani celebrity as Tag Heuer’s brand ambassador, Franck said for the time being his side had no specific plans to go for an icon in Pakistan where his customers had an international mindset and were well acquainted with Tag Heuer’s Bollywood and Hollywood icons Shah Rukh Khan and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Having partnered with WTA tennis champion Maria Sharapova and LPGA star Suzann Pettersen, Tag Heuer, in March this year, declared Cameron Diaz as its new ambassador for its new LINK LADY collection.
“At the moment it’s not a priority as we are not in a state where we would want to localize this idea. Our current ambassadors are successful, so there is no specific plan to hire a new one,” Franck explained.
Pertinent would be to mention here that Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi is presently working as a brand ambassador of Rado, another Swiss manufacturer of luxury watches.
Asked if his company was facing any regulatory challenges in the local market, Franck, being not directly engaged in the local market, referred the question to Yaser Azam, senior brand manager of Speed (Pvt.) Ltd, Tag Heuer’s distributors in Pakistan, who said the overall business conditions in Pakistan were quite favorable for Swiss watch industry.
“It’s not a mass market. It’s a very nesh market, so technically speaking there are no any hindrances or problems. And that’s why we can see the growth also in the local market,” said Azam.
About the impact of global recession on Tag Heuer’s business in Pakistan, Franck replied in negative. “Not at all, because the attention which was given to watches was so small that we are not feeling influenced by the macroeconomic meltdown. We are small and in countries like Pakistan we are educating the customers on quality watches.”
“We have a mission to share that what is the quality of Swiss watches,” said the Swiss official.
TAG Heuer, which Franck said stands the fourth luxury watches firm among its global competitors, wasfounded in Saint-Imier in 1860 by Edouard Heuer, since then it has set many major milestones of high-end watchmaking.
Today, one of the largest and most desired brands in the luxury watch industry, the Swiss legend draws upon its active engagement in the world of sports to create the most accurate timing instruments and watches in the world.

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