With three lens units, Titan plans eyewear ramp-up

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Titan’s eyewear division has drawn up aggressive expansion plans this fiscal starting with setting up three lens making units including one in Mumbai to come up next month.

The plant in Kolkata has just been commissioned while the one in Noida is under trial stage. A frame manufacturing plant is also under consideration, to come up next to its Bangalore facility by April next. In store opening, the target is to open 100 this year against 150 opened during the last two years.

“The Mumbai facility would cater to the western market while the Noida and the Kolkata units would address the northern, north eastern and parts of southern markets. This will significantly cut down on our lens delivery time,” Bhaskar Bhat, managing director, Titan, said.

The Kolkata facility would produce 400 lenses a day and would be set up at an investment of Rs 4-5 crore. Money spent on each of the Mumbai and Noida facilities would be same, Ronnie Talati, eyewear division CEO, said.

A frame making facility is also planned, to come up next to the existing lens mother plant at Bangalore.

“Land has been acquired and machinery being put into place. Trial run would start by end of the calendar year 2016 and production to start by April,” Talati said.

There are aggressive plans to expand store network, by 100 stores in 50 new Tier-II cities opting mostly for small format stores.

A typical Titan Eye store costs Rs 50 lakh while the small versions would come at half the price, Bhatt said.

While all these would come as organic growth, Titan won’t be going for any inorganic expansion, particularly in the eyewear e-commerce place.

Though it recently acquired online jewellery outfit caratlane.com, Titan, however, has no plans to acquire any e-commerce player in the eyewear segment, as the dynamics of these two businesses are quite different, Bhatt said.

“We have no intention to go for any online acquisition in the eyewear space. Eyewear segment is a category where store visit is very important for reasons like proper eye testing done by experienced optometrists and sophisticated equipment in our stores. We don’t want to compromise on that. How much that can be transferred online is still a question mark. Transferring an entire business online is not going to be practical. Having said that pushing the online experience is what is happening. We don’t need a physical presence for the acquisition we made (caratlane). So, for each business we would do what is relevant,” Bhatt said.