The slow-down has not impacted Titan Industries since its business model has significantly been de-risked, asserts Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director of the company. In an interaction with journalists from The Hindu Group of publications here recently, Mr. Bhat said the distribution strength and width of offerings had kept Titan in good stead in a slowdown situation.

According to Mr. Bhat, the watch business of the company had grown by 15 per cent in value term. The jewellery business too had grown by 27 per cent in value term, he said.

Titan, he said, had a watch portfolio in different price points - from Rs.295 to Rs.1.50 lakh - and selling in 11,000 outlets. In the jewellery business, Titan wasn't a one-town jeweller. It had a network of 120 stores across the country, he said. ``Therefore, our basic business model is significantly de-risked,'' he pointed out.

According to him, there were many segments and geographies that were less affected by the downturn. ``Youth is less affected. If you go to Patna or Lucknow, sales are booming even today,'' he pointed out. The ongoing wedding season, he said, had helped to fuel growth. In this context, he pointed out that a recently opened store in Chennai had contributed to the sales growth in the city. ``It has not cannibalised our other stores,'' he added quickly. ``Gold jewellery is contra to what we should expect in a typical demand-supply price curve,'' he said. Quizzed if sustained high prices of gold would not have any adverse fall-out on the demand over the medium or long-term, Mr. Bhat replied in the affirmative. He agreed that the rising gold prices could pose a serious threat to plain gold jewellery business. In this context, he said Tanishq was promoting diamond jewellery part of the business.

Fielding a range of questions, he said Indian jewellery makers lacked in design. ``We are still stuck to our Indian designs,'' he said. This nullified the cost advantage, he pointed out. ``We are not design-centric. We are still nowhere near the finish the jewellers such as Tiffany or Cartier achieve,'' he said. While Tiffany and Cartier were able to bring engineering into jewellery making, the Indian jewellers were not professionalised in delivering consistent quality, he said.

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