Renowned Italian luxury writing instrument brand Montegrappa recently launched its first flagship store at Palladium Hotel, Mumbai. On the occasion, Giuseppe Aquila, CEO, Montegrappa spoke to correspondent Sunil Pol about the future course of the brand in India while maintaining its legacy.
Q What factors compelled you to promote Montegrappa in India? And when did you think of launching this flagship store?
Being Italian we appreciate the Indian culture, its luxury and its tradition which compelled us to look forward towards India. A year ago, we started thinking over launching a store in India.
Q Why is the brand so late with its store in India?
Montegrappa is a very exclusive brand, which has very selective distribution, and so, we are very selective with our regions of stores. This is the time when the Indian market is economically growing well and reaching to our standards. So, we felt this is the right time to launch a store in India. We have recently started with our global retail expansion plan.
Q What is the size of this store? And the amount of investment made?
The store is around 350 sq ft. Due to the agreement with the mall authorities, we are not supposed to disclose the rental and investment figures. But so far, in the interiors, we spent around Rs 40 lakh.
Q What is your target consumer group? And how is the consumer awareness?
We are targeting ‘High Networth Individuals’ (HNIs) in India.
As far as India is concerned, we became serious about the Indian market about three years ago. At that time, the brand awareness was very low. Since then, we have been pursuing brand awareness activities. Now, with the efforts of promoting, marketing, sales promotion, and people’s experience of the product, the brand awareness is increasing.
The consumer has evolved about Montegrappa. He has become aware of the brand. This kind of positioning of the brand has happened over the last three years.
We are not intending to come up with our TVC for the next five years because the kind of product we are selling needs different kind of positioning and marketing activities. Montegrappa cannot become a mass product.
We are a global product and we are learning through our global experiences. We will be replicating some global promotional and marketing strategies in India. As of now, we have not decided over marketing expenditure, but whatever is required will be spent.
Q Especially at a time of digitalising literature, how do you find the market for Montegrappa in India?
I can answer with global perspective and I have to say that in fact during the digital era, our sales kept growing. There is always a need of a pen especially a good pen. We have seen that the people are getting back to the old values, they appreciate the ritual behind writing, which is gaining momentum and inversely fuelling the sale of writing instruments year on year. Also, what is driving our sale is the inclination among consumers to preserve the most valuable pieces.
Q Would we see more such Montegrappa stores in India in the coming years? If yes, will those be company owned or franchised stores?
In the coming months, we are planning to open two more such stores in India. This is the first store, the second store we are opening in Delhi today, on 22nd April, and for the third store, we are scouting for the right space as there is a dearth of right ambience for luxury retail in India. There are very limited spaces like UB city in Bengaluru which suits the repute of the luxury brands.
We first wanted to open our store in India and that’s the reason we are here. Before opening of the store, we do a kind of survey about the places, those that should match the standards of the brand.
On a global scale, we are planning to open 50 stores by 2018. In India by 2018 we will be opening around 6 stores which will be owned by a joint venture of Montegrappa India and Montegrappa Italia. It’s a 51:49 ratio of the venture, respectively.
We have not yet decided about the investment for our future retail expansion as the expenditure varies with varied geographies. But whatever capital is required, it will be pumped in by both the Montegrappa venture partners.
Q What are your plans of promoting the brand through eCommerce? Any tie-ups with online market places?
We are looking at eCommerce seriously. But we will not be doing too much trading through eCommerce. Rather than doing eCommerce and trading, we will focus upon brand building there.
Online trading is notorious in India with heavy discounting; same may not exert response in luxury retail. Immediately, we are not planning to have tie-ups with online marketplaces. First, we are focusing on setting up our brick-and-mortar stores and managing the traffic, and then we will go online. As finally in luxury, the brick-and-mortar concept works better.
Q Will these pens be imported? Or are you planning of launching a production unit in India?
Our pens are made in Italy and the watches are made in Switzerland and we will continue importing from these destinations.
Q What would be your initial target of sale with this store?
Initially we have not set any target for sale. We are primarily focusing on brand building.
Q Being known as luxury brand since 1912 what are your strategies of maintaining the legacy of the brand here in the Indian market?
Our company has a very long history and tradition and our main goal is to provide the level of quality of craftsmanship that we are known for and the same strategy and philosophy will be applied in India. We will have very selective distribution here in India. For consumer service, we will have service centres here.
Q How do you find the competition by Mont Blanc?
We are committed to with our standard and unique product service to the consumers and we will follow with the same.
Q Where do you see Montegrappa by 2020 in India?
By 2020, Montegrappa will be the dominating brand in India. It will be positioned as the number one or number two brand among the luxury writing instruments brands in India. To maintain the repute and the quality, we will be selective with our sale. We are confident that India might become one of the top three markets of Montegrappa by 2020.
Q What is the price range of Montegrappa products?
We deal into writing instruments, watches, table clocks, cufflinks, leather goods, filigree collection and fragrances. The price range of our products starts from Rs 12,000 and it goes up to Rs 8 lakh.
Internationally, we sell our pen for Rs 6 crore. For the Indian market, we have altered the prices following the high duty and tax structure. And there are consumers in India buying a pen of around Rs 18,000 sold by Mont Blanc.
We have reduced the price not just because we are cheaper than Mont Blanc, but to tap this market which is into the bracket of Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 for pens. If you look at our high-end products, our high-end pens are priced in lakhs.