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pen maharashtra tourism Montblanc eyes further growth Diversifying into jewellery and watches business helps sport softer image

Image Credit: Courtesy: Montblanc Soenke Tornieporth, Montblanc’s vice-president of sales for the western hemisphere region, vouches for the investment potential of the brand’s limited edition products. Published: 00:00 March 20, 2012 By Manoj Nair, Associate Editor   SMALL MEDIUM LARGE

Dubai: Soenke Tornieporth likes seeing more women shoppers at Montblanc boutiques. It affirms, as nothing else does, that the luxury label's carefully crafted strategy to be more than a writing instruments brand is paying off… handsomely.

So much so that for the first time Montblanc's watch business became bigger than its writing instruments last year. Sales of its jewellery range are also starting to show up well on the scales. Incidentally, the focus on watches and jewellery is of recent origin compared to what it has achieved in its traditional lines of writing instruments and leather accessories.

And that is good going for a brand that was perceived as overwhelmingly masculine. The softer image that Montblanc now sports is also the magnet for more women patronising its boutiques.

"At the end of the day it's the same craftsmanship, love and passion that the brand brings to all its categories," Tornieporth, Montblanc's vice president of sales for the western hemisphere region, said.

"We have developed own movements for the watches in the last couple of years and launched a new collection of jewellery in homage to Princess Grace of Monaco. What we are doing is create a story around each product and that's more important to us than the [sales] numbers. That will take time, but will come eventually."

Boutique renovated

Not that the brand — which is part of the Switzerland-headquartered Richemont Group's portfolio of upscale labels — is not trying to shorten the process. An extensively renovated boutique covering 150 square metres opened last month at the Mall of the Emirates (MoE). It takes its place alongside the other flagship store at the Dubai Mall.

The MoE outlet has dedicated areas for jewellery and watches plus private rooms where the more unique pieces from the collections can be admired and, hopefully, the decisions made to acquire them.

"The year has started as being very good for us; Montblanc products, especially the limited editions, are reckoned as very safe investments," said Tornieporth, who is not above a bit of hyperbole when he added, "In my strictly personal view, it's even a better investment than on the stock markets."

According to him, the brand's European sales have been holding up well in recent weeks, indicating that for the wealthy, the distractions over Greece and the wider Eurozone crisis are not proving a distraction.

"We operate more than 400 boutiques worldwide and our traditional markets continue to be extremely strong for us at least," Tornieporth said. "We do have a lot of boutiques in Europe as well and that is a good indicator of where a significant portion of our revenues are coming from."

More growth and store openings will be squeezed out of the emerging markets.

"There's India, where we now have 17 boutiques through a franchise partner," Tornieporth said. "But, the Montblanc heritage is about being a European brand and that's reinforced by production facilities in Switzerland and Hamburg. We do not take our heritage lightly."

A fact that the increasing number of women shoppers at Montblanc boutiques here and elsewhere will appreciate.  

Domestic shoppers drive luxury labels

Dubai attracts most affluent consumers

For the Rivoli Group to have the first franchise-owned boutique in the world featuring the latest Montblanc design and concept is no coincidence.

Prior to the makeover and creation of additional space, the outlet at the Mall of the Emirates had been a top performer in Montblanc's network. Now the redesign will go some way to reinforcing its standing.

"Right through the second half of 2011, it was quite noticeable that high-income domestic shoppers were making their presence felt in the luxury retail category," Shanu Nag of the Rivoli Group said. "For a full-scale turnaround in the retail sector, and for it to be a sustained one, this is the shopper base that needed to make its presence felt.

"The tourist spending became more pronounced during DSF 2012, but it's the domestic shopper who has the stage now."

According to a recent report on the region's retail industry by Alpen Capital, the luxury goods market in the Middle East was estimated at $5.4 billion (Dh19.83 billion) in 2010. This was through a growth of between 5 per cent to 8 per cent following a contraction of 4 per cent in 2009.

"Luxury goods sales are primarily guided by the tendency of consumers to change hi-tech and expensive items frequently for maintaining a high novelty and prestige quotient," the report said.

"With increasing affluence, Chinese consumers have also turned their attention to Dubai to shop at its luxurious malls. Although luxury retailers are gradually exploring markets in other major cities of the GCC, none of them have a greater pull towards affluent consumers than Dubai. The city is likely to remain the largest luxury shopping destination in the Middle East for the foreseeable future."

Montblanc Despite the location of the mountain it’s named after, Montblanc is a German company, famed for its top-of-the-line pens.

Time Out Says Details Users Say Recommended Despite the location of the mountain it’s named after, Montblanc is a German company, famed for its top-of-the-line pens. However, the brand now sells other expensive accessories like leather goods, jewellery, watches, wallets, desk accessories and even aftershave. You’ll have to bring a stack of notes as high as Mont Blanc itself, though, to ensure you walk out the shop with anything other than a cheery ‘please come again’. Montblanc 5 1 Time Out Dubai staff http://www.

By Time Out Dubai staff | 01 February 2009

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