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Swiss salute to Khalsa

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Swiss salute to Khalsa

It’s Swiss knife-maker Victorinox’ salute to the martial tradition of Sikhs. For the first time, in a product initiative aimed at any religious community, Victorinox is planning to have a world launch of a range of Khalsa merchandise, including kirpans, on the eve of Baisakhi on April 13.

Victorinox has also jumped onto the bandwagon of India’s ‘feel good’ campaigners with the roll out of products bearing ‘India Shining’ logo.

Says Victorinox area sales manager Michael Tschumperlin: “Prototypes of kirpan are being developed in Switzerland with design inputs from Amritsar. In the next couple of months, we will be ready with our packaging and finer details. This is the first time that we’re creating a product for any religious community.”

Beginning with the presentation of the exclusive kirpan — with handle made of solid gold and studded with diamonds and precious stones — to the Darbar Sahib at Golden Temple in Amritsar, Victorinox will simultaneously launch the Sikh range of merchandise in the UK, USA, Australia and India.

One of the youngest religions of the world, Sikhism attaches a sacred significance to the concept of martyrdom — its Gurus laid their lives fighting the murderous persecution of the medieval conquerors in north India.

The martial tradition of carrying five Ks— kada (a wristwear), kesh (uncut hair), kachh (underpants), kangha (comb), and kirpan (a small, double-edged dagger-like object)— continues even today among Sihks who have emerged as a prosperous and influential community in countries like USA and UK besides India.

The decorative variant of kirpan will be priced around Rs 4,000 while the smaller Sikh range of kirpans, pocket knives, and climber knives bearing symbols from the khalsa tradition will be priced around Rs 1,250. Victorinox expects the first launch batch to sell 1 lakh pieces worldwide.

Says the Victorinox’ Indian representative Anish Goyal: “The retail pricing in the US will be around 30-50 per cent more than India. India matches the retail prices of Switzerland.”

Despite high component of taxes and duties, many luxury Swiss products like watches sell in India at Swiss retail pricing due to lower retail margins in India.

Corporate promotional sales account for around 40 per cent of Victorinox’ sales. Recent activities like zodiac-based merchandise in China and localised product strategies like ‘India Shining’ range (and earlier Paramvir Chakra kit) in India are aimed at expanding the brand’s retail appeal.

As the company aims at a global sales growth target of over 10 per cent in 2004 over estimated sales of $400 million in 2002, Victorinox is looking at new strategies like expanding apparel from the US to Japan, China and select European markets; consolidating luggage manufacturing operations in China; exploring out-sourcing opportunities for cotton apparel in India and shortening of product delivery cycle from Switzerland to India (In India it has already come down to 3-4 weeks from 6-8 weeks a year ago).


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