Watches on display at a store. Photo by Shutterstock/Fotokostic.
Mobile World (MWG) as a new player in the market this March, opening its first watch outlet in Ho Chi Minh City, emerging has a competitor to gold and jewelry chain Phu Nhuan Jewelry (PNJ), which has been selling watches since 2012.
MWG, a major seller of smartphones and household electronics products, as of September has displayed watches in 134 outlets, outnumbering 22 outlets of PNJ.
The two companies are now major competitors in Vietnam’s watch market which observers say is showing greater potential as rising incomes of the middle class prompts spending on luxury accessories.
Analysts from stock brokerages say Vietnam’s watch market has not seen a dominant player accounting for than 20 percent of share.
Both PNJ and MWG are looking for a new revenue sources on top of their core business which is showing signs of slowing down.
Both companies are offering discounts of 20-40 percent to attract customers. They both sell the watches mostly in their existing stores. PNJ has two stand alone watch outlets.
But getting a bigger slice of the pie is not easy. PNJ chairwoman Cao Thi Ngoc Dung said at a shareholder’s meeting earlier that increasing the firm’s market share is tough because Vietnamese prefer to buy unofficially imported watches which are widely available at competitive prices, while authorized sellers have to bear high import tariffs.
Between 2013-2018, watches contributed only VND100 billion ($4.3 million) to the company’s revenues, which reached VND13.7 trillion ($591.6 million) last year.
The not-so-impressive sales figures could be because PNJ pursues a different strategy from MWG. The jewelry chain sells mostly to customers in the mid- and high-end segment, with many of its 1,000 products coming from luxury Swiss brands such as Tissot and Longines priced up to VND95 million ($4,100) and more.
MWG, however, focuses on more affordable brands such as Casio and Baby-G which only cost VND6 million ($259).
The electronics chain’s strategy seems to be more suitable in Vietnam, going by its sales figures.
Watches are set to contribute up to VND600 billion ($25.9 million) in revenue to the company this year, accounting for 0.5 percent of its total.
"We are currently importing watches from distributors. In the future, we could buy directly from brands to increase profits," said CEO Doan Van Hieu Em.
The company, even though a few years behind its competitor, has expanded rapidly by increasing number of outlets, which is set to rise from the current 134 to 250 by the end of this year, then double to 500 next year, expanding from the southern region to the whole country.
PNJ, however, only targets to bring its watch outlet number from 22 to 35 this year and 70 by next year.
The jewelry keeps its watch sales this year out of the public’s eye and only said in a report that watches have "full of potentials to have a breakthrough this year."
H1 watch revenue in Vietnam grew 300 percent year-on-year, and could increase 10 times to VND300 billion ($12.9 million) by 2022, according to top broker Saigon Securities Inc (SSI).