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‘Reached out to our Akshaya Tritiya clients, 54% willing to buy’



Titan’s jewellery division, which accounts for about 80 per cent of the company’s total revenue, reported a dip of 5 per cent in revenue in March because of the Covid-19 lockdown. The company is now preparing to roll out a digital initiative for customers who want to buy gold during Akshaya Tritiya, which is around the corner. Ajoy Chawla, chief executive officer (CEO) of the jewellery division at Titan, tells Samreen Ahmad that the company is gearing up to train nearly 25,000 people in Titan’s ecosystem in two weeks to restart post-lockdown work. Edited excerpts:

What are Titan’s plans for Akshaya Tritiya, which will occur during lockdown this year?

Akshaya Tritiya is the second most important event for us in terms of sales after Dhanteras. We reached out to our customers who are typically Akshaya Tritiya buyers and found out that 54 per cent of them actually want to buy during the occasion even if it is a token purchase. Since gold appreciates in value, people are also seeing wisdom in hedging and parking money in gold as a safe haven. The business community is positive towards it. Even the salaried class is beginning to see gold as an interesting asset class.


So, what offers will be rolled out for these customers?

This time it’s going to be an e-Akshaya Tritiya as the stores are shut till May 3. Our central warehouse is in Hosur and unless we reach our warehouse we will not be able to commence deliveries. However, we have opened online to book orders and will take 100 per cent advance from customers and deliver to them whenever we can at the earliest. We are giving up to 25 per cent off on making charges on gold as well as studded jewellery. We are also running a gold coin scheme which enables customers to lock in and protect the current gold rate. If one wants to buy 25 grams worth of gold, he can buy in the form of gold coins today. These gold coins can be redeemed against future jewellery purchase any time up to November 30. The making charges on gold coins that we charge upfront now will be set off against the making charges of the jewellery that they buy later. We have also put together a back-end team, which is in touch with customers. Buyers can finalise a product and the moment our staff are allowed to go into stores, our sales executives will try on the jewellery for the buyer using a video-based approach. Also, if you pick a product but on physical receipt it doesn’t work out, then you can exchange it till June end.

How is the company coping with the slump in demand?

Jewellery demand will not be as badly hit as other discretionary products such as garments and shoes as it appreciates in value. Every consumer facing company is going through a tough time. Our sales lost during the lockdown period will not come back. There will be deferred demand for wedding buys as customers will delay wedding purchases to may be the second or third quarter. There is also pent-up demand, which happens during birthdays and anniversaries. No one can predict how this will play.

How are you ensuring that Titan’s 10,000-strong karigar community is taken care of during these times of crisis?

We have ensured that they are getting cash flow support even though many of them operate on a variable basis. But currently, there’s no work. So, they are being supported directly or indirectly by us. Food is being ensured wherever possible. For those who need cash support, it is being provided. This support will continue for a few months till the flow of work begins.

How are you deploying work from home for such a large number of employees?

It’s a great opportunity to sharpen the saw. The retail staff are undergoing sales training, product training, and participating in innovation workshops. We are also doing health and wellness sessions with them. Every manager is in touch with his or her team on a daily basis even if it’s an informal virtual chai pe charcha. Our karigars have been involved in design competitions. At the senior level, executives are conducting webinars and learning from around the world on how we need to be prepared besides looking at the financials.

Is Titan gearing up for a restart post lockdown?

We are in the process of rolling out a comprehensive training programme for two weeks starting Monday for 25,000 people who are a part of Titan’s ecosystem. Every karigar, support staff, vendor, security staff, housekeeping, franchisee staff, sales people and cashier will undergo this training. We are looking at changing layouts in stores to avoid crowding. There will be a shift system for staff to see there is no crowding. We are also working on adequate safety material availability, including reusable masks, thermal scanners, gloves and sanitisers.

Will launch of new collections be affected this year?

One of the drivers for sales is design and new collections. And that will not be compromised as it is a pillar of the Tanishq brand. Certainly, our launch calendar will get deferred and we are reworking it. But it’s important to build desire for the customer with new collections.

Is the company going to cut salaries of staff?

We have not taken any call on that front. We have ensured that all the people in our ecosystem get their salaries.


Courtesy: Business Standards


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