Why Did 2 Swiss Watch Brands Leave the Kering Fold?

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We have a strong belief that wholesale is a great success factor for us. It’s about making sure the message will remain the same and what we stand for is very clear to the end consumer and retailer.

What are the messages you want consumers to take away about each brand?

Ulysse Nardin is clearly a disruptive manufacturer inspired by the sea, and that encapsulates a lot of innovations. The word disruptive is important, because it’s in the look of the watches, the way they are designed. And for Girard-Perregaux, it’s one of the oldest manufacturers that epitomizes sport chic. It sends a message that you can be extremely high-end but also be welcoming. Both have the intention to remain exclusive in distribution and production, but inclusive in our message.

Do you plan to combine any aspect of the brands’ manufacturing or operations?

We are blessed to have a large number of in-house movements. None are common between the two brands. And there is no plan to change that. In all of this, there are no significant changes in the way we’re doing things. That’s the beauty of doing a management buyout with the same team. We believe what we’re doing is right.

Why do you think Kering wanted to exit the watch business?

They said it in a press release. They wanted to focus on their core business and on brands that would have a critical size. The watch world is a very different world from the fashion world, in terms of the product life cycle. And I was talking earlier about the wholesale strategy — this is the opposite of Kering, which is clearly very retail focused.

Honestly, I believe this industry is going through some changes. It’s been a real privilege to have amazing historical brands at such a time, during Covid. This is a time when you collectively have to make decisions, where the way you need to act is not written in any book. But now that we’re exiting the crisis, what’s interesting is there are so many systemic changes on the landscape. And that trend is going to continue.

What are the most important lessons you took from the pandemic?

Everyone says it and I guess it’s true: It’s been an accelerator of trends. In the past, the way we talked to the end consumer was quite conservative. Before, there was the belief that you needed to be in the store and you needed to touch the watch to buy it. But now it’s not about selling the watch, it’s about making sure the message behind it is understood.

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