“I don’t really see an issue, in the medium to long-term, the market will continue to grow and we are fairly confident that things will be back to normal,” said Akash Goyle, country manager & managing director of Luxottica India.
In India, Luxottica sells its portfolio of brands through more than 5000 partner retail stores like Titan Eye Plus, Himalaya Opticals, GKB Opticals, Lawrence & Mayo, Shopper’s Stop, Lifestyle. It also has franchise stores under Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters. Luxottica’s portfolio includes proprietary brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Persol as well as licensed brands including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Prada, Valentino, Versace, and others.
According to Goyle, luxury sales are driven primarily by aspirations and he does not see these brands losing their aspirations or the consumer wanting to kill his/her aspirations either. The consumer would continue to want to treat themselves occasionally from time to time, he said. “So that’s one area that I feel that it will not have that much of an impact than what is being made of,” the executive said.
In the month of April and till the middle of May all the partner retail stores of Luxottica India were shut due to the lockdown. After May 18, a lot of the company’s partner retail stores started reopening.
“The stores that have already opened, in less than 2 weeks, they have reached 50% to 75% of their last year’s business. But if you look at it at the chain level or the national level this figure would probably be around 40- 50%, simply because a lot of stores in malls and airports have not opened yet.” Although, Goyle was quick to add that lot of sales that they are seeing right now could also be pent up demand.
The company is also ensuring health and safety measures are in place at their partner stores which include mandatory use and availability of masks, gloves, and sanitizers. It is sharing detailed guidelines with its retail partners that include cleaning of frames and sunglasses making them safer before trials. The company is also working on Virtual-Try-On, which ensures that the consumers do not have to physically try many products and on the other hand enable the retailer to offer a very wide variety of products, even when not in his inventory.
The company according to Goyle has not seen an increase in sales coming through the online channel but witnessed a lot of customers researching online and discovering the brands online. “Unfortunately in the lockdown that India had, our products were not classified under essentials and hence online players could not sell. They have opened at the same point of time as the retail stores have.”