To increase local sourcing, Titan Eye Care is looking for technology partners.
NEW DELHI : Titan Co. Ltd’s eye care division is looking to either invest in entities that bring strong technical capabilities or acquire them, a senior executive said.
The company is “open to” any inorganic opportunities it may spot in the market, Saumen Bhaumik, the division’s chief executive said in an interview. “Our exploration would be in the space which brings in a little bit of a tech orientation. As I said, this is an exploration. We’ll continue to explore whatever fits the scheme of things,” he said.
The eye care division runs the optical retail chain Titan Eye+, which sells eyewear products such as prescription eyewear and lifestyle products under Titan, Titan Glares and Fastrack brands as well as international brands.
Eye care is Titan’s third-largest division, after jewellery and watches, with annual revenue of ₹517 crore in FY22. Parent Titan has invested in jewellery retailer CaratLane. The division currently operates more than 850 stores with plans to close the financial year near the 1,000-store mark.
“We have expanded across 230-240 cities and towns; to that extent, we have deep penetration. We are going further, both deeper and wider, into the market. But the immediate focus will be on the top 20 cities because there are enough and more catchments that we have not yet covered,” he said.
Earlier this year, the company also opened a youth-focussed eyewear chain under the Fastrack brand. “We have opened five stores in Bengaluru; a few more cities will open up in the coming months,” Bhaumik said.
He added that the company is ramping up local sourcing and developing a vendor base in India as global supply chains remain disrupted. The company is also trying to reduce its dependence on China.
“In 2019-second half, we realized that we are quite dependent on China. Before that, we made an investment in a frame factory. But business was by and large still going to China. Then, we had to change gear and we decided that we have to find an alternative to China. And even if it is not 100% made by us, there are other countries we would like to explore,” he said. Meanwhile, covid also accelerated the process as companies globally explored new supply chains.
“Today, over 40-50% of our monthly requirement is India-centric. This could go up to 70-80% in another 12 months’ time,” Bhaumik said.
This includes expanding capacity of the eyewear division besides exploring potential partnerships and also developing a local vendor base.
“In FY23, another 20 crore is going in. Significant investment is happening but we are making sure the investment is balanced with capability building. There would be continued investment for another couple of years,” Bhaumik said.
He predicted that in the next three to four years, India will have a “very strong” ecosystem of frames and sunglasses manufacturing.