1. On our side, we can look back on a positive economic performance in 2015. With sales of 23.5 million euros, our company recorded growth of 9.9 percent compared to the preceding year. Under private ownership we have now been in the black for the seventh year in succession. The international markets were especially well-represented in the growth figures, with the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Spain seeing particularly positive development. A slight decline was recorded in the Asian region, where Japan remains our strongest market. Trademark and product protection also played a significant role in the past business year. In China we succeeded in defending these effectively and we managed to come to a respectful agreement with the Chinese state-owned company Sea-Gull, which recently copied the design of our Meister Classic. Despite this, new infringements occur regularly, which we pursue vigorously. Being aware of challenging markets like Asia, we are still very positive about the international potential of Junghans.
2. The next three years will see investments in our headquarters with further construction projects: planning for the renovation of the historic terrace building is already underway. We are now embarking on this further step, a manifestation of the strength of the company and the brand. We have presented new models in our Meister collection at the Inhorgenta fair in Munich. The Meister Pilot is a pilot watch based on the historic Bundeswehr chronograph of 1955; the Meister Driver is inspired by classic cars and their dashboard instruments. At Baselworld we will introduce new models from the max bill by junghans range. In order to develop existing markets we will focus on our trade activities and foster more intense and personal cooperations with our international trade partners. A new shop- in-shop concept, an event-kit as well as a new Visual Merchandising concept emphasises this, while the new Junghans Academy will bring us closer to the sales consultants at the point of sale.
3. Junghans was a pioneer of radio-controlled “smart-watches” in the late 90s, when we produced watches to open doors or for making payments. For example in 1999 we supplied the Hong Kong Underground with smart card watches with access and payment function. Today we mainly concentrate on mechanical watchmaking, while carefully following the development of smart watches. We are aware that at this stage we cannot compete with giants like Apple and Samsung, but with an appropriate partner we are surely considering this option for the future. Currently we even expect positive effects of the smart watches, as a younger generation considers wearing watches in general as a life-style accessory. We are happy to see an increasing number of younger customers, asking for traditional mechanical watches and even hand-wound movements, as a contrast to electronic devices.
4. Baselworld remains the most relevant watch fair in the world and we are considering greater investment. In 2015 we achieved international growth of 17.8%. Junghans is back on the international market as a strong and successful brand and we receive numerous requests from international distributors. Baselworld is the ideal time to meet partners from all around the world and to hold intense conversations. Our location at Hotel du Commerce, right next to hall 1.0., offers perfect conditions and service to meet existing and potential partners.
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?