MIDE-RANGE - FOLLI FOLLIE - Creating and housing fashion

March 2014

The Athens-based Folli Follie Group operates in more than 28 countries and has a portfolio of brands that accompany a customer through all life phases. Europa Star spoke to George Koutsolioutsos, CEO of Folli Follie (FF) Group about business at the group, its brands and future plans.

George Koutsolioutsos, CEO of Folli Follie
George Koutsolioutsos, CEO of Folli Follie

Europa Star: Revenue in your watches and jewellery segment increased by 10% in 2012. Did you enjoy the same level of growth last year?
George Koutsolioutsos: Though the 2013 financial results have not been announced yet, we believe that we will experience the same trend for the year that passed. Overall this is a growth rate that we feel that is satisfactory, though we tend to believe in FF Group that the “sky is the limit”.

What percentage of your group revenues does the watches and jewellery segment account for? Are you happy with this split?
GK: The Jewellery, Watches and Accessories activity contributed 72 per cent of Group revenues and 91% of Group EBITDA in the first nine months of 2013. As this activity experiences the highest margin compared to our other mainly domestic activities, we are satisfied with this split. Jewellery accounts for about 50 per cent, watches 35 per cent and accessories 15 per cent of the specific segment’s revenues.

“Part of our global dynamic strategy is establishing our own brands’ presence in the Asian and the European markets, focusing especially in China, the UK and Spain.”

You also have a strong presence in distribution… and not just for watches and jewellery but for many other brands as well…
GK: We create fashion globally and we have established a strong presence with more than 850 points of sale worldwide and more than 4,700 employees worldwide. In FF Group we “create fashion” through our own brands – Folli Follie and Links of London, we “share fashion” through the distribution of globally esteemed brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Juicy Couture, UGG Australia, Guess, Nike, Converse, G-Star Raw, Franklin & Marshall, Samsonite. Moreover, we “house fashion” through our active involvement in the field of retail with department stores and outlet stores, and we also “share beauty” via the exclusive distribution and representation of Procter & Gamble Prestige perfumes in Greece for brands such as Dolce&Gabbana, D&G, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Escada etc.
The dynamics of the Group and its global appeal can be underlined by the most recent developments in our strategic history. Folli Follie Group’s Fashion Business has gone international, with the recent announcement that it has assumed the exclusive wholesale and retail distribution rights for Juicy Couture in all Continental Europe, UK, Ireland and Cyprus. This is an important milestone in our corporate history as it paves the way for further expanding our international fashion portfolio.
Part of our global dynamic strategy is establishing our own brands’ (Folli Follie and Links of London) presence in the Asian and the European markets, focusing especially in China, the UK and Spain. At the same time, a dynamic entrance and further establishment in the USA, South America, and Canadian market also form part of the Folli Follie strategy, in specific. Being a main shareholder of the Swiss Dufry AG, the leading global travel retailer that operates almost 1,400 duty-free and duty-paid shops in airports, cruise lines, seaports, railway stations and downtown tourist areas in 45 countries, we wish to exploit our strategic partner’s insight and enter the South American market.

Watchalicious by Folli Follie
Watchalicious by Folli Follie

Where are the different functions such as design and production carried out? GK: FF Group has an experienced design team that consists amongst others of Italian, Swiss, British and Greek top designers, who work together for the presentation of complete jewellery, watches and accessories collections. Though the HQ for Folli Follie is in Athens and the HQ for Links of London is in London, the top management for both brands has its base in Athens. When it comes to production there is a small Jewellery production unit in Athens and the bulk of the production is carried out in our Hong Kong production unit.

Do you have any Swiss Made timepieces in the collection and if not is this something you plan to introduce?
GK: Links of London has introduced Swiss Made collections in the past. This year, we are very proud to present a new Swiss Made watch collection during BaselWorld 2014 with Links of London. The new Regent Watch Collection that has timepieces for both men and women in a variety of coloured leather straps, or bracelet, and with either a dual time or chronographs.

MPH White Dial by Links of London
MPH White Dial by Links of London

Brompton by Links of London
Brompton by Links of London

Is the UK the main market for Links of London? Are you looking to expand elsewhere?
GK: Links of London continues to expand its distribution with particular attention on the UK, where it has recently opened new stores in Chester, Bristol and in Ireland within the luxury shopping outlet Kildare Village. This will give it 59 stand-alone stores and concessions in the UK and Ireland, and 282 points of sale and 48 concessions internationally in locations such as Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and the Americas.

What can we expect from Folli Follie and Links of London at BaselWorld and what are your objectives for 2014?
GK: At BaselWorld 2014 Folli Follie will focus on a collection that we truly believe will set the trend for the coming season. The Folli Follie Watchalicious Collection is an impressive palette of combinations that lead to an unmatched offering of timepieces, especially designed for those women that view fashion and style as a way of personal expression. This will be the sixth time Links of London participates in BaselWorld and this year we are planning a very dynamic comeback in Hall 1.1.
As designers of beautifully crafted timepieces, Links of London has established a reputation for quality craftsmanship and innovative design with a contemporary British twist. The watch offer currently encompasses 18 ranges with around 200 styles available. For Basel, four new collections will be unveiled: Brompton, Richmond, Greenwich and Regent, with each collection taking inspiration from the area of its namesake and reflecting the British brand values. Showcasing our range of newest collections that address equally the modern, sophisticated men and women, a visitor of the Links of London stand will get a good grasp of the prominent Links of London aesthetics and will be introduced to the famed British legacy of the brand.

Source: Europa Star April - May 2014 Magazine Issue