1. For the greater part, I remain reasonably optimistic for 2016, above all given the overriding feeling at the SIHH that demonstrated this optimism was shared by a great number of the participating retailers. However, being optimistic doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll record growth, in reality to have a second consecutive year at minus 2 or 3% isn’t in itself a bad result, particularly if we take into account the political, economical and financial tensions throughout the world. To these we should add a sense of insecurity linked to world conflict, as well as terrorism and problems being experienced by some of the larger economic powers. If I were to give my prognosis for export development in 2016, I’d say that 2016 would be similar to 2015, but look towards a one to two percent improvement.
2. In 2016, we’ll continue to invest in our principal markets, these being the USA, China and Japan. There’s no question of reducing our efforts or investment in these three countries. We’ll also continue with our European efforts because this remains a highly interesting market, not least because of tourism. From 1st March, we’ll be addressing our pricing within different currencies in order to find a balance between differences emerging in certain regions due to monetary fluctuations.
3.Will the mechanical watch which is the only “perpetual” instrument, also continue to be “immortal”? I see no danger that mechanical watchmaking based upon a nearly 500 year old heritage, which has become a veritable art- form and is an integral part of our culture, should ever disappear. On the contrary, the built-in obsolescence of modern technology will encourage a new and greater desire for this eternal watchmaking art. Paradoxically, the digital watch positively promotes the traditional watch but it is not detrimental to it. Otherwise, the two formats are perfectly compatible and complementary.
4. Participation at the Baselworld trade fair is important because over 7 days, we can meet up with the whole world and because Baselworld is a unification of the Craft and not only brand names. Obviously from a purely commercial point of view, Baselworld has, thankfully lost its overall importance, simply because today no one goes to Baselworld just for the trip and to meet their customers!
EUROPA STAR’S FOUR QUESTIONS
1. What are your predictions for 2016? Do you think that exports will recover, or will the markets stagnate or continue to decline after the slump we saw in 2015? And what do you think were the reasons for the downturn in 2015?
2. What are your priorities for the coming year: consolidating your existing markets, actively exploring new markets (if so, which), rationalising / consolidating / expanding your distribution network, launching new products, PR initiatives, etc.?
3. Over the longer term, do you believe that mechanical watchmaking will gradually die out, hybridise, or continue to occupy its own exclusive niche? Do you see the advent of smartwatches as a potential threat, or an opportunity for growth and diversification?
4. What exactly do you hope to achieve from your participation in Baselworld 2016? Do you feel your presence at the fair is essential to your business, or are such forums less important now than they were in the past?