1. Periods of economic and political uncertainty are always extremely sensitive times for fine watchmaking. The US elections and the bad signals coming out of China are prompting us to be cautious at a time when many of our commercial partners are faced with high stock levels. The traditional areas of growth are sluggish and there’s no indication of imminent improvement. But Laurent Ferrier is a young brand with a highly exclusive product offering, so sales levels do not necessarily follow the overall industry trends. We still have numerous markets to conquer and numerous horology lovers who aren’t yet familiar with our creations.
2. Laurent Ferrier is pursuing its business with a strategy aimed of course at strengthening our position with the brand’s traditional commercial partners, with whom we enjoy a close relationship, but also at raising our visibility both with potential end customers and commercial partners. With 17 sales outlets around the world, we have some interesting room for manoeuvre and the SIHH gave us visibility with players operating in what are new markets for the brand. In 2016, Laurent Ferrier will again be investing in its presence on social media, Instagram in particular, but will also be putting the emphasis on exclusive meetings with lovers of haute horlogerie.
3. We have to see the advent of smartwatches as an opportunity, on condition that we know how to address this new generation. Hybrid models are a response aimed at attracting smartwatch owners. On the other hand, it’s our duty to convey the magic of mechanical horology to technology devotees and explain its heritage value. It’s a chance to open up a new era of creativ- ity to gain the interest of tomorrow’s customers.
4. We started new talks with potential partners in January. We’re hoping that Baselworld will confirm the interest shown at the start of the year. We’ll also have the opportunity to see customers who traditionally don’t go to Geneva. The Basel trade fair is a firm fixture on our agenda which guarantees a significant percentage of our sales. On the other hand, Baselworld alone isn’t enough and the brand has to be present on the markets throughout the year.
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?