Royal Selangor has grown from a small family-run business to one of the best known pewter brands. It is little wonder that it has played host to several prominent figures, which include former US President Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart, actor Mel Gibson and Managing Director of International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde. Chen Tien Yue, Executive Director, Royal Selangor Marketing discusses with IndianRetailer the roadmap the brand plans to adopt in the Indian market.
Saniya Seth (SS): Why did you your company decide to enter the Indian market? What potential do you see here?
Chen Tien Yue (CTY): There is a strong gifting culture in India, which is evident during the festive and wedding periods. As a luxury giftware brand with 127 years of heritage in design and craftsmanship, we felt our brand positioning and product offering was a good fit with this strong gifting culture.
SS: Please tell us about the success you have achieved in other countries.
CTY: In the UK, we have established a strong reputation for our unique children’s gifts and you can buy Royal Selangor today in Harrods, Selfridges as well as John Lewis department stores around the country. We can be found in Australia’s top department stores David Jones and Myer, and recently we made a re-entry into the US market through presence in Bloomingdale’s.
SS: How do you plan to establish your brand here? Tell us more about your marketing and market penetration strategies.
CTY: We believe we have a strong product offering including wine accessories and home décor items which will appeal to the affluent Indian consumer. To further strengthen our position in the market, we recently launched a collection of Hindu Gods and we will be launching collections inspired by Indian culture and architecture in the next two years. We recognise that Indians are much more familiar with silver as a metal, and that we will need to invest the time and effort to educate the Indian consumer on pewter and its unique properties. This can be done through customer events as well as our PR efforts.
SS: Kindly elaborate on the investment plan.
CTY: We currently have two retail stores in Mumbai, and we plan to have about 20 – 25 stores across tier 1 cities within the next three years. Each store costs us about Rs 2 crore to set up.
SS: How different is the Indian market as compared to the markets worldwide?
CTY: Royal Selangor entered China in the mid-1990s, and today we have retail presence not only in Shanghai and Beijing but in 13 other cities. We have clearly established ourselves at the luxury end of the market through prestige projects such as designing and making trophies for the China F1 race and the Shanghai ATP Masters tennis tournament. Some of our product categories like tea accessories are very successful in China. We recognise that India is a different market and while wine accessories do just as well in India as they do in China, there is a need for us to design other product categories which are more relevant to the Indian consumer.
Due to the duties, and the distance from the home market of Malaysia, there is a sizeable difference at the moment but we hope this will reduce over time as duties come down.
SS: Are you entering India through franchise model? Please tell us more about your collaborations here in India.
CTY: Royal Selangor’s presence in India is through an exclusive distributor, Selangor Retail Private Ltd.
SS: Wll the company be opting for standalone stores or shop in shops?
CTY: We have started with stand retail stores, but at some point we will be exploring the shop in shop format in India. The retail stores tend to give us sufficient space to showcase our entire offering, so that has been the focus so far.
SS: Who is your target audience?
CTY: We are reaching out to modern, affluent Indians with an appreciation for good design, craftsmanship and a heritage brand story. We believe we can serve their various needs, from wine accessories so they can entertain at home, to home décor items which make great wedding or housewarming gifts.
SS: Tell us about your B2B as well as B2C business plan.
CTY: We are building up a direct sales team to serve our corporate clients more pro-actively, and as we undertake prestige projects in India as we have done in China, we are confident Indian companies will also want to give their business partners a branded gift. Underlying both the B2B and B2C push are our PR efforts to tell the Royal Selangor story and share the properties of pewter.
SS: Who do you consider as your competition and how do you plan to deal with the same?
CTY: Competition comes from giftware brands working with other materials like glass, ceramic and metal. We feel that the brand sets us apart, with its 127 years of history and our continued strength in craftsmanship.
Year of establishment: 1885
Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
No. of employees: Over 1000
Countries: 20 countries around the world, but with our own Royal Selangor employees in Malaysia, Singapore, China, Australia, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan.