Feb 3, 2010
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Titan to add retail stores, watch capacity

Feb 3, 2010

By Aniruddha Basu

MUMBAI, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Titan Industries Ltd (TITN.BO), India's top watch and jewellery retailer, plans to add 80 to 100 retail stores in FY11 and up watch manufacturing capacity by 3 million units annually on robust demand, a top official said.

Tanishq jewellery, a Titan Industries Ltd company

"Expansion will go hand in hand with retail sales. We expect to grow topline by about 25 percent (in FY10 on year) and in accordance with that we will open retail stores," Titan Managing Director Bhaskar Bhat told Reuters on Wednesday 3 February.

Titan, which has 518 retails stores now, sells watches under a range of brands including the premium Titan and the economy brand Sonata. It has two jewellery retail chains-Tanishq and Goldplus.

Titan may add between 80 to 100 retail stores next fiscal though the exact number was not finalised, Bhat said. The stores added would fall under different brands such as World of Titan, Tanishq, GoldPlus, Fastrack and Titan Eye+.

A large part of store expansion will be done through the franchise route and hence would not require funding, he said.

The firm has spent most of its targeted capex of 700 million rupees for the current fiscal but had not yet finalised an amount for the next fiscal, he said.

It is spending about 100 million rupees on setting up a new watch assembly facility in the northern state of Uttarakhand to keep up with the uptick in consumer demand.

Bhat said the plant would have a manufacturing capacity of 3 million watches annually and would help increase capacity to 18 million units per annum.

"It is expected to become operational in the next 3-4 months," he said.

Titan, which also makes accessories such as eyewear, had last week reported a surge in quarterly profits and sales beating analysts expectations due to robust growth in both its jewellery and watch businesses.

Sales in its jewellery business rose nearly 34 percent in the quarter ending Dec. 31, while revenues from the watch business grew 25 percent, indicating a turnaround in consumer sentiment. Its overall sales rose over 30 percent.

Bhat said jewellery business volume was expected to rise between 3 to 5 percent in Jan-March, despite higher gold prices.

Titan had seen jewellery volumes grow 4 percent on year in the quarter to Dec. 31.

Titan has not changed prices of its watches and does not have any immediate plans for a revision.

"Jewellery...depends on the price of gold and gold has been higher by about 25 percent this year," Bhat said.

Bhat also said the company would continue to see robust growth in the coming quarters though it may not match that of the December quarter as the period included the favorable impact of festive season sales.

Shares of Titan ended up 3.61 percent at 1,731.75 rupees in a firm Mumbai market.

(Reporting by Aniruddha Basu; Editing by Prem Udayabhanu)

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