Our recent coverage of Tissot has shown that the brand is well equipped for future growth, having inaugurated a new space-age logistics centre in Le Locle last year and presented a broad range of new products, covering everything from sports to classic watchmaking, to the brand’s buyers at BaselWorld.
Towards the end of the show Europa Star caught up with François Thiébaud, who has been President of the brand for sixteen years and is also Chairman of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, for his feedback on the development of Tissot and the global watch market in general.
In one of his many interviews during BaselWorld Mr Thiébaud had said that the key to Tissot’s success was not to increase prices. This may seem surprising, especially given the strategies pursued by other brands within the Swatch Group and the strength of the Swiss franc, but Mr Thiébaud has overseen sixteen years of continuous growth at Tissot – even during the crisis year of 2009 – which mean that his explanations are worth listening to.
“Obviously there have been increases in price over the past sixteen years while I have been president,” he says. “A watch that cost 250 francs sixteen years ago may cost over 400 francs today. That’s because I have other costs that have increased, such as salary costs and component costs.”
Nevertheless, Mr Thiébaud maintains that customers should be able to purchase a Tissot watch at a “Tissot price”. “All too often, companies increase their prices to increase their margins,” he continues. “I say we should increase our margins by producing greater quantities.”
As Chairman of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, Mr Thiébaud said that the general feedback from BaselWorld had been “very good”, not just for watches but for jewellery as well. “But there is no guarantee that this will continue. Maybe things will slow down later in the year. After all, we had explosive growth towards the end of 2008 but then things came to an abrupt halt.”
Nevertheless, he is less concerned about a possible downturn than his colleagues at the upper echelons of the Swatch Group’s brands. “In the middle of the range Tissot is protected because if things do slow down then the person who may have bought an Omega will buy a Longines and the person who may have bought a Longines will buy a Tissot.”
Despite the continuing rise in importance of China as a market, François Thiébaud stresses that Switzerland is the brand’s most important market. “Not in terms of units, of course,” he says, “but taking into account the density of the population. If I sell ten watches in Switzerland, for example, it’s not the same as selling ten watches in Asia.”
It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that one of Tissot’s latest limited editions for the 2012 MotoGP is dedicated to none other than Swiss rider Thomas Lüthi.
Source: Europa Star June - July 2012 Magazine Issue