Although South Africa’s faltering economy has eroded consumer spending, the luxury goods market has been bolstered with the opening of the revamped Montblanc boutique in Sandton City Mall, Johannesburg, this week.
Owned by South African billionaire Johann Rupert’s Richemont, Montblanc is one of the world’s leading brands of luxury writing instruments, watches, jewellery, leather goods, fragrances and eye wear made mostly in Germany and Switzerland.
President for Montblanc’s Middle East, Africa and India region, Eric Vergnes, says the sluggish economy was an opportunity for Montblanc to reinvest in the brand.
“When times are tough you either cave in, wait and do nothing. Or you invest and gain market share. We are focused on the latter,” says Vergnes.
Vergnes noted how Montblanc was growing in South Africa where it was a highly recognised brand with four stores.
“We are growing because our range is wide. We have entry level items that are affordable and we have high end items,” says Vergnes.
Through the revamped store, Montblanc was hoping to improve customer experience with the first neo concept 119m² in its Middle East, Africa and India region.
Customers for the revamped store are likely to be the wealthy individuals.
South Africa 2016 Wealth Report by New World Wealth released last month indicated that there were 38 500 high-net-worth individuals in the country with a combined wealth of $159 billion (R2.16 trillion) at the end of last year.
But the number of high-net-worth individuals had declined by 10 percent during the period between 2007 and last year as some wealthy individuals left the country.
Vergnes says that “the idea is to be a luxury store but being less intimidating and more welcoming”.
South Africa is important as there are four Montblanc stores.
“We are delighted to open the region’s first neo concept boutique in Sandton, an important shopping district, and the historical location of Montblanc’s first boutique in South Africa.
“The sophisticated and contemporary boutique invites existing connoisseurs and new generations of customers to discover the Maison’s rich heritage and enjoy the wide selection of products showcased,” Vergnes says.
By Dineo Faku for www.iol.co.za