Ultra-luxury to beat the volume trap
With thirty models released in 2014 and prices around 200,000 francs each, Cabestan has situated itself firmly in the ultra-luxury sector.
Lionel Betoux, a trained engineer and former Rolex employee, took over the brand in 2013 when it fell on hard times.
Since then prices have come down somewhat, while the number of pieces produced has trebled.
“As volume is not an issue for us, we are in a market that is less susceptible to crises than the mid-range. But we do have to keep an eye on the profitability threshold.”
The new owner describes the challenge as “extremely complex” but “fascinating”. Employing around ten people, the artisanal brand benefits from the watchmaking expertise of Eric Coudray. Balance springs aside, all components are manufactured in-house. “The most important aspect for independents is innovation, in terms of both product and design.”
But with such a restricted client base, successful communication of the brand’s values is vital. “The watch alone is not sufficient; promotion and everything that goes with it must be effective. You need to create visibility, but also sympathy, with clients and retailers.”
With such low volumes, any fluctuation in orders placed by retailers becomes critical. “A retailer might promise to take some stock for the autumn, then change their mind. Each event of this nature has an impact.”
Source: Europa Star March 2015 Magazine Issue