Roamer integrates production and changes its positioning

March 2002

ROAMER integrates production and changes its positioning

The R & R Time Group (Roamer, the brand leader, along with CAT and Bruno Banani) is strengthening its position in the mid-range sector by integrating its production and modifying its market positioning. It is becoming more Swiss, more classical and more affordable.

The integration of production, or at least a large portion of production has become prevalent among the majority of large prestige brands. Now, it is an interesting option for many of the mid-range watch companies as well. A good example is Roamer. For the last several years, this enterprise has displayed a strong determination to become a major player in this rather difficult segment of the watch market, where competition is fierce among a number of international groups desirous of controlling this coveted sector.

A new assembly line
In October 2001, Roamer established its own assembly line. Installed in its facilities in Soleure, this production entity is equipped with the most advanced technology available and over time will allow the brand to assemble 250,000 `Swiss Made' watches per year. Why such a large investment? The response was unambiguous. Steve Kocher, the CEO of Roamer, explained that this outlay would guarantee the firm improved mastery over production and therefore better quality control of products brought to market. It would also provide for more security and independence for the brand in this very sensitive and susceptible domain. But beyond the aspects directly linked to the increasingly tense situation in the assembly area, the expansion in production responds to the brand's marketing concerns.

Return to its roots
`We want to restore the highest level of Swiss credibility to the brand,' states Kocher. Roamer is undertaking a major change in its market repositioning. When the enterprise was acquired several years ago by the Chung Nam group (very powerful in the area of component parts such as bracelets, cases, etc., and which controls ISA, a major maker of quartz movements), Roamer was re-launched with an accent on creative and contemporary models, in somewhat the same vein as a fashion brand. After a few years, the brand decided to correct this image by changing its strategy and returning to its historical terrain in Switzerland. Above all, Roamer intends to emphasize the `Swiss Made' quality of its products.
The return to a more traditional approach, also seen in the renewed design of the collections, is in a certain way a return to its roots. Founded during the last century, Roamer was a highly industrialized enterprise with hundreds of employees during the period of vast expansion in the Swiss watch industry. The current repositioning is therefore perfectly logical within the historical framework of the firm. The small museum recently established in Soleure also supports Roamer's historical timekeeping legitimacy.

Swiss credibility
This repositioning thus aims to give the brand a new Swiss base that reinforces its credibility in the marketplace. This will become obvious in the brand's new advertising campaign where the central message will accentuate its renewed status of `Swiss Made', even though there will also be other elements relating to its products.
Besides its new collections and products, Roamer is also introducing a line of mechan-ical movements based on ETA automatic calibres. Some of the models will be available in gold and steel.
At the same time, Roamer is strengthening its distribution. It recently purchased its German distributor, MAG, whose performances in that market have been nothing short of spectacular. The brand intends to fortify its presence on this `home market', which historically has been its strongest.
Today, Roamer produces more than 100,000 pieces per year, with 80% of its fabrication situated within a price range of 280 to 400 Swiss francs (190 to 280 euros). On the German market alone, the brand Bruno Banani, for which Roamer holds the licence, sells nearly 60,000 pieces at an average price of between 100 and 200 euros. As for its other licence, CAT, Roamer expects to make a few changes and then reposition its prices somewhat lower, between 62 euros and 160 euros.

Source: Pierre Maillard, Europa Star Magazine
March 2002 issue