“I cannot say we managed to realize our growth goals last year due to a relative decline in demand. But this year, we have faith sales will exceed that of 2011,” Rotap owner Mehmet Ali Bal told Sunday’s Zaman. Bal acknowledges that an anticipated decline in domestic demand could affect their business negatively. Businessmen, however, maintain hope for a better performance this year, citing what he calls increasing taste for luxury products. According to Bal, the increasing per capita income and personal savings -- in line with a fast growing economy -- stimulate a demand for luxury items in Turkey. The company started 2011 with plans to grow 20 percent and was able grow 17 percent by the end of last year. The company entered 2012 with the same growth target as it set last year. Bal attributes his confidence in Turkish markets to the country’s ever improving consumer sentiment and demand. “This potential helps increase foreign investors’ interest in Turkish markets. ... More global firms see Turkey as a major hub from where they can branch out into fast-growing markets,” he noted.
The company currently serves customers at 60 separate sales points through a dealers’ network across Turkey. Bal said they are going to follow an unorthodox growth model by cutting down the number of sales points. We are looking to reduce the number of stores to create few but relatively higher-quality stores where service standards will be improved,” he explained. The number of sales points could be decreased to 45 in the following two years, he added. The number of Rotap sales points in Turkey has actually been steadily declining in Turkey over the past few years. The company had as many as 150 sales points back in 2009. Bal has faith that the demand for high-end timepieces will continue to rise in the coming years.
Rotap has exclusive rights to distribute luxurious Swiss watch brands such as Omega, Tudor, Mont Blanc, Louis Erard and others in Turkey.
In a separate event in İstanbul last week at which his company introduced a new collection of Montblanc watches, Elvir Johic, Montblanc area manager responsible for Europe and Africa, told Today’s Zaman Turkey topped the emerging markets that play a leading role in their business growth. Johic said they expected to open new boutique stores in Turkey this year. We have not defined the provinces where theses stores could be opened yet, he added. Underlining that they placed heavy importance on Turkish markets, Johic said: “Asia, South Africa and other emerging markets are of course important for us. … But Turkey sits on top of our list of favorite markets to be focused on,” he explained. As regards a lingering sovereign debt crisis in Europe, Johic said they were affected negatively during the crisis last year; however, bad times have come to an end for their company. “Montblanc produces a limited number of hand-made luxury products, and these reach a limited number of consumers in specific countries. ... Turkey is one of them,” he noted.
Representatives of Turkish luxury brand watches and the accessories market have complained that high taxes levied on luxury pieces -- particularly the private consumption tax (ÖTV) -- remained a burden for their business. This is known to have urged some small-sized firms to skip checks customs to escape duties and fees.