Eric Vergnes, President Montblanc MEA and India speaks to Luxurylaunches

The Maison of Montblanc has indeed come down a lengthy path since its conception in 1906. Over the years brands trademark, black theme coupled with their white feather logo has certainly brought an unsurpassed panache to the market of fine stationery and leather goods. In a tete-a-tete with Luxurylaunches, Eric Vergnes, President Montblanc Middle East Africa and India reflects on the brand’s history, challenges and future strategies to penetrate further into the expanding Indian market.

With a heritage of more than 100 years, how does Montblanc impeccably continue to be the pioneer in writing instruments globally?
– As a Maison, Montblanc is constantly seeking new ways to innovate, be it through materials, design collaborations or production techniques. Each of our writing instruments are handcrafted in our atelier in Hamburg, where we continue to unite traditional craftsmanship with the highest levels of precision and modern materials to create unique collections that appeal to our broad range of customers.

What is Montblanc’s positioning in India after 20 years of existence & what does the Indian market mean to you?
– India is an extremely important market for Montblanc and although present for many years, we have recently returned to the market with an even stronger presence and focused expansion strategy.We are fortunate to enjoy a discerning and loyal customer base in India, and we look forward to offering the same shopping experience and product selection as the rest of the world.

What is the brand’s expansion plan for our Country?
– After less than 18 months, we have opened seven Montblanc Boutiques across India. This being said we are far from covering the market and we see the potential to open 15 to 20 more in the coming two to three years. Obviously, we are very selective of where we want to open and want to ensure that we choose the right location – both in terms of business development as well as brand building.

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The Bangalore market is going to be privileged with the exclusive launch and availability of the limited edition product, why have you chosen Bangalore city and what is your outlook for the Southern region of India?
– Yes, the availability of the new AB de Villiers Special Edition Bracelet is limited to Bangalore. It is where we have opened our latest boutique, in Phoenix Market City, and of course, home to the Royal Bangalore Challengers – the IPL home team for our new Brand Ambassador AB de Villiers.

How has the joint venture between the strongly positioned Indian brand Titan and the iconic & luxurious Montblanc helped in creating brand presence &how does it impact the assertive expansion strategy?
As a luxury Maison, Montblanc is recognized in almost every corner of the world, including India – so this association allows us and Titan to bring a unique luxury experience to a large and loyal customer base. Titan brings the market knowledge and reach while Montblanc brings a beautiful brand with heritage and a Western vantage point on luxury. There is no doubt that the partnership is supporting the growth of both companies.

Women consider Montblanc as an excellent option for gifting men, but how does the brand plan to attract more women towards the feminine collection?
– Yes, it’s true – the purchasing power of women is strong when it comes to gifting Montblanc for the men in their lives. But in recent years, we have witnessed an increase in women’s appetite for bigger mechanical watches for themselves which is why we expanded our women’s Bohème collection with three new models that incorporated our patented manufacture ExoTourbillon movement.

The recently launched Montblanc for UNICEF collection is aimed at imparting education to underprivileged children by donating some proceeds of the collection, how successful has this collaboration been in raising funds globally?
– It’s a very important partnership for our Maison, which has been running since 2004. Together, Montblanc and UNICEF’s shared vision of empowering every child through education has to-date raised over US$10 million for UNICEF’s work for children.

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AB de Villiers the new brand ambassador of Montblanc a renowned South African cricketer & a team player of Royal Challengers Bangalore, how has the connection worked for Indian consumers?
– We are very proud to be associated to an ambassador like AB de Villiers. He is an extraordinary cricketer with a talent that has long been known beyond South Africa. AB has been playing in India for more than 10 years and enjoys an amazing popularity as well as a great fan base. We have just made the announcement a few weeks back in Mumbai and the public’s response has been extremely positive.

According to you in this day & age of digitalization, what is the hope for writing instruments?
– That’s a very good question.The world is definitely becoming increasingly digital and connected through smartphones and tablets so it is easy to believe there is less and less use of writing instruments. But we are catering to a different market, the luxury market – and this is a market with an inherent understanding that there is an art to writing and a special affinity and meaning that comes with writing a letter which cannot be replaced by a keyboard.
Of course, we embrace modernity and innovation while upholding our heritage, which is why we launched the Augmented Paper last year which reimagines the writing experience through integrating traditional writing into the digital workflow.

It is said that…The only real luxury is Time. You can’t get Time back. What according to you is Time?
– This is very true.Time is precious. As much as possible, I like to spend it with my family and friends; it is about sharing these special meaningful moments.

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