A CLASS APART

A key player in the lux­ury mar­ket, Mont­blanc re­turns to In­dia with AB de Vil­liers as the justied brand am­bas­sador. We dis­cover more in this ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

MillionaireAsia India - - In Conversation - By Rama Ahuja

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 signicant 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 specic 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 afnity with the brand. Mont­blanc has a long deep her­itage rooted in crafts­man­ship, in­no­va­tion and ex­cel­lence, so our cam­paigns and am­bas­sadors must reect 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 aciona­dos 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 reafrm 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.

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