Greg Simonian, president of Westime (Los Angeles, USA):
“Major markets, like Los Angeles, are where the brands do a lot of business, so it is in their interest to build their presence in these important locations through standalone boutiques.
- Greg Simonian
“We have a front-row view of this trend of boutiques, since we run Hublot and Richard Mille boutiques just steps from our Westime Beverly Hills store, and both brands are also sold at Westime. A very different shopper is drawn to the monobrand stores versus the multi-brand location. Those heading straight to the brand boutiques already have an affinity for that particular brand, while those shopping at a place like Westime are interested in seeing what’s new in the market from a wide range of brands and perhaps discover something they had never heard of before. The fact that many monobrand boutiques create limited edition watches exclusively for their brand boutiques helps drive traffic into those stores without taking any business away from nearby independents. Also, at least for a company like Westime, our salespeople have very loyal relationships with their clients based on decades of good service. Those clients stay for a reason.
“On the other hand, every new watch boutique helps spread the word about watches in general, and potentially brings new fans into the fold. Some will shop at branded boutiques and some will shop at the independents, but more for everyone is still more.
“The first advantage a multi-brand retailer has is the ability to offer variety. Equally as important is the fact that as business owners we have the power of instant decision-making. We’re also a bastion of discovery, since we can introduce exciting independent watch brands to our clients.
“At the end of the day, it is the retailer who convinces the customer what to buy, and has the ability to switch them from one brand to another. Right now there are over 600 watch brands manufactured in Switzerland, so independents will always have room to grow with other brands.”
Brand Boutiques - Pros and Cons
Source: Europa Star August - September 2013 Magazine Issue