A CLASS APART
A key player in the luxury market, Montblanc returns to India with AB de Villiers as the justied brand ambassador. We discover more in this exclusive interview.
They say, “dynamism is a function of change.” Eric Vergnes, President, Montblanc Middle East, India and Africa, talks about the luxury-scape in India. We discover how Montblanc plans to tap the market through its re-entry in joint venture with Titan. Through its association with UNICEF, the marque continues to make signicant contribution in imparting education to children across the globe. As we converse with Vergnes, we discover, among other things, cricketing legend AB de Villiers as Montblanc’s new ambassador for India and South Africa.
How would you describe India’s luxury market with specic regard to buyer sentiment right now?
India’s luxury market is strong right now and Montblanc enjoys a strong awareness. Our customer base in India is large and discerning. There are no major differences in the best sellers in Hamburg, London and Dubai than the ones of Mumbai or Delhi.
We understand Montblanc wants to double its boutique presence by 2018. What are some of the factors fuelling this growth?
The sheer size of the Indian market, the emergence of the growing upper middle class and a young demographic with increasing interest in luxury are all driving luxury spend and indicate the market will likely enjoy continued growth in coming years. We see enormous potential in the market and are selecting our boutique locations carefully to ensure we can provide the proper Montblanc shopping experience our customers across region.
Please tell us about your joint venture with Titan.
Montblanc’s decision to return to the Indian market was very much a strategic one and so it made sense for us to do so with a partner as well established and with the magnitude, resources and market knowledge as Titan. Together, we are able to deliver a unique luxury experience for our loyal customers and I think this is a strong partnership which will certainly bring depth and reach to the development of our presence in India.
Already, the joint venture has resulted in the opening of seven new Montblanc boutiques across Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Pune in the short time since we reentered the market.
Montblanc’s rst TV campaign in India featured actors Anil and Sonam Kapoor whereas AB de Villiers is the newest face. What impact do you think he will have on potential consumers?
For us it is always about the person and their afnity with the brand. Montblanc has a long deep heritage rooted in craftsmanship, innovation and excellence, so our campaigns and ambassadors must reect this. Today, we are proud to be associated with great ambassadors from different universes: Cinema Hugh Jackman, Royalty with Charlotte Casiraghi and of course cricket with AB de Villiers.
The appointment of Villiers as the rst ever ambassador for India is an exciting occasion for Montblanc and the region. AB is a much loved sporting personality in India and around the world, and an inspiration to many with his long-spanning career. I think sporting acionados and potential consumers alike will appreciate that to be at the top of your game in any eld takes passion, skill and craftsmanship and this new partnership is a testament to that, the dedication put in to each and every Montblanc piece.
Why did you choose Bengaluru as the city to roll out the rst AB de Villiers product? Could you describe the product?
Limited to 131 pieces, the Special Edition AB de Villiers bracelet marks his addition to our luxury family, and is available exclusively in our Phoenix Marketcity Boutique in Bengaluru. Not only is the region an important market for us, but it is an important place for AB - home to his IPL cricket team for the past 7 years.
The AB de Villiers bracelet is a stylish piece, crafted in woven red leather with an elegant steel carabiner closing, accented with a black lacquer insert and Montblanc’s iconic snowcap emblem.
You have had a long association with UNICEF. How are you planning to build on it this year?
We have indeed. Montblanc and UNICEF have partnered together in support of child literacy and education programs since 2004, raising over USD 10 million for UNICEF’s work for children in over 25 countries around the world. The partnership aims to ensure children have a fair chance of reaching their full potential.
Now in its thirteenth year, we are proud to reafrm this commitment and partnership, with the goal of helping to empower ve million children through education. Highlighting the preciousness of writing as a force for good, the new UNICEF campaign calls for people to share their most important memories or experiences of writing, and what it means to them. Accordingly, each piece in the new collection – including writing instruments, leather goods, jewellery and timepieces – celebrates the diversity of world languages and features beautifully handwritten characters which are the rst letters children learn to write at school in six different languages from around the world, including of course Hindi, as well as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Roman characters.