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CEOs HAVE THEIR SAY - JEAN-SÉBASTIEN BOLZLI, CEO AEROWATCH

June 2016



In response to a questionnaire sent out by Europa Star, 50 CEOs from Switzerland, Europe, Japan and the USA reveal their strategies for dealing with the dangers and opportunities that await in 2016.

CEOs HAVE THEIR SAY - JEAN-SÉBASTIEN BOLZLI, CEO AEROWATCH

- 1. We approach 2016 serenely but prudently. The numerous conflicts throughout the world, the high value of the Swiss franc as well as the rapid drop i n the oil price are many of the factors that give us indication of a difficult year to come, at best we can hope for a market standstill. Nonetheless, we remain confident about the future, thanks to our good results over the last few years and our strategic choice relative to well structured collections offering exceptional value for money.

- 2. In the style of the Swiss marketplace where we have 125 sales outlets, our intention is to extend our distribution network into our neighbouring countries, particularly France and Germany. Furthermore, this year sees the launch of the “7 Time Zones” model (a unique and original watch providing the time in 7 cities across the world), which is the result of our first internal development, conceived and executed by my watchmaker brother, Fred-Eric. With this new time piece, we form part of the close-knit circle of creative specialist craftsmen in the Jura region. In communication terms, by offering models that are off the beaten path, we can present ourselves differently from the mass production brands and in a highly positive manner, and subsequently gain in visibility.

- 3. In terms of quantity, Swiss watchmaking represented 3% of the watches sold worldwide in 2015, we could therefore deduce that it is already an exclusive niche. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that watchmaking will live on and continue to create desires. The arrival of smart-watches is a real growth opportunity for the high volume Swiss brands where the sale price to the public doesn’t exceed 1000 CHF. Indeed, the built-in obsolescence of these “ technological gadgets”, the setting up of maintenance services and issues related to after-sales service, as well as marketing are all questions that only the brands belonging to the large groups can answer. In 2013, we were at the forefront and presented one of the first smart-watches in collaboration with the Japanese giant Toshiba; finally, for t he various reasons cited above, we withdrew from launching the project.

- 4. Baselworld remains “the great” and indispensable world gathering for all the profession. It’s an exceptional platform to strengthen client relationships, create new contacts, develop new markets and promote the latest creations. As far as we’re concerned, we will be present at Basel and this will be for the 32nd consecutive year with a discreet stand in keeping with our brand’s image. We prefer to offer quality products at attractive prices rather than go into debt for the creation of a booth.

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?

LIST OF RESPONDING CEOs