1. Just like 2015, 2016 is going to be a difficult year for the industry. But we’re equipped to cope with it, and my view is that it’s the best time for setting ourselves apart from competitors. When things get difficult, that’s the time to invest and to put on a spurt to get as far ahead as possible. We’re cautiously confident.
2. Our objective is to continue to implement the strategy we began in 2012: consolidation of the collections, consolidation of our distribution network, development of our monobrand boutiques, strengthening relations with our main retailers and, of course, quality products that are firmly geared to the 21st century.
3. Our industry is its own biggest danger. The challenge facing us is to remain relevant to the new generation of customers, and to do that we need to find a way of communicating with them, to talk the same language. You don’t talk to a 20-year-old customer the same way as you would to a customer of my generation. As far as smartwatches are concerned, they’re not a danger in themselves. They have a different raison d’être from us, and there’s room for both. To draw a parallel with gastronomy, starred restaurants and fast- food restaurants both have their place, and they might in some cases serve the same customers.
4. During the SIHH, feedback from retailers about our new products and the 2016 programme was very positive. Our business model is evolving and the SIHH, though still a crucial event, is evolving too. The best is yet to come.
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?