Steve Evans, executive vice president at Fossil Group
Fossil India, the wholly owned arm of American lifestyle company Fossil Group, has become the biggest for the brand in Asia-Pacific. Despite being one of the last subsidiaries of the group to open in the region, the Indian arm is now fifth in the pecking order, says Steve Evans, executive vice president at Fossil Group. Edited excerpts:
Q What were the initial challenges when the brand entered India in 2008?
Our initial focus was to set up appropriate distribution for the portfolio of our brands. We realised young consumers in India would aspire to own global fashion brands. While entering the India market, we wanted to maintain the international appeal of our brands by being present in a brand-right environment. The distribution scenario was lean, especially in terms of quality stores that we wanted. There were a limited number of players in the high-end fashion and luxury segments; most departmental stores were focussed on mass brands. Premium shopping malls were also few and an appropriate environment was difficult to find.
Q When did the brand gather pace?
In the initial years, our customer base was small. But we were able to grow consistently with a CAGR of 40+ percent. The uptick happened when India opened the doors to FDI in retail. We were the second brand to get FDI approval in India and opened Fossil stores by 2014. Though Fossil India was one of the last subsidiaries to open in the APAC region, and almost the smallest at that time, we are in a much stronger position now.
The quality and expansion of our distribution network have fuelled our growth tremendously over the last few years, in addition to expanding our portfolio of brands in India. In our category, we have also been early movers in the ecommerce market, starting in 2015. Business had been growing since then, so much so that Fossil India became the No 1 subsidiary in APAC region in 2018.
Q Globally, wristwatches are not having the best of time, but India proves to be an exception...
The Indian market is different from global markets. The country has the highest population of young adults and millennials. All our brands enjoy great brand awareness and appeal. We consistently strive to elevate their global brand appeal. Besides, the wearables market is just opening up in India and being one of the early movers in this space, we see tremendous growth driven by smartwatches.
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(This story appears in the 24 May, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)