Veterans’ ‘time out,’ Titan set for new chimes

Sands of time: Watches are coming back to millennials as a fashion statement, says Bhaskar Bhat.   | Photo Credit: Ashoke Chakrabarty

There’s something that makes Tata Group’s Titan tick!

Titan was born when HMT (Hindustan Machine Tools) used to be the time keeper of the nation. Set up in 1986, the firm, so far, has seen only two CEOs — Xerxes Desai, the founding MD who served until 2002 and Bhaskar Bhat who took over the reigns of the company in that year.

Mr. Desai was at the helmfor 16 years and Mr. Bhat would have put in more than 17 years with the company and 34 years with the Tata Group, when he retires on September 30.

Tata Group already has a succession plan in place. C.K. Venkataraman, earlier CEO of Titan’s jewellery business, will take over as the third MD of Titan Company in October this year.

The MD-designate comes with 14.5 years of experience in watches and a similar period of exposure to jewellery business within Titan. Mr. Venkataraman has six years left to retire. So, the longevity records set by his predecessors will possibly remain untouched for the foreseeable future.

Titan has been a great value creator. Since Mr. Bhat took charge as MD in 2002, the company’s shares have grown by some 400 times.

Its current market capitalisation is more than the combined worth of Tata Steel and Tata Motors, at about ₹95,000 crore.

Interestingly, when he took over the reins of watch business, Titan’s market capitalisation was about ₹220 crore and today, it is the second-largest listed entity in the Tata stable after TCS in market capitalisation.

When Mr. Bhat took over, Titan’s annual production was six million watches, having now grown to over 18 million. Under his management, the company has also diversified into jewellery, eyewear, accessories, perfumes and sarees, converting Titan into a complete lifestyle accessories brand.

‘Titans’ set to retire

Ravi Kant, CEO, watches and accessories at Titan is retiring and Suparna Mitra, chief sales and marketing officer, will take over as the new CEO from April, 2020.

Ajoy Chawla, senior VP - strategy and business incubation, will take over as CEO- jewellery from October.

Saumen Bhaumik, chief sales and marketing officer, eyewear will take over as CEO of the division from January 2020 as incumbent Ronnie Talati, is retiring.

“Five out of eight top leaders who have been serving the company right from its inception are retiring. We have enough people internally to fill in these positions.

“Also, we have built a leadership [pipeline] to ready the next generation of leaders,’’ said Mr. Bhat.

He said he was leaving his company at a time when smart watches were increasingly becoming popular.

“I am so happy to see watches are coming back to the wrists of millennials as style statements, fashion accessories and smart bands. We should have entered the smart watch segment a few years ago; we were late by two years, and that’s the only regret I carry,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 12:22:24 AM |

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