1. The year will be extremely difficult for the watchmaking industry in general. The worldwide geopolitical and economic situation has never been so uncertain and in some cases is catastrophic. Notwithstanding this, a certain number of the large players still continue to overproduce, thus forcing too much stock onto the market. This weakens retailer cash flow and generates price wars, creating a situation which casts a shadow over everyone.
2. Given that the sell-out of MB&F in 2015 increased by 42% over 2014 (amazing is it not?), our retailers’ stocks have gone into freefall. We have therefore started to reduce our distribution over the last six months. It has gone from 41 to 32 at PoS. In 2016 we will probably close 5 more retail outlets and not replace these in order to retain around 30. 2016 will be our greatest year for new products. 70% of our turnover will be achieved from new creations - compared with 62% in 2015.
3. Mechanical watches are here to stay, but they may have to be reinvented in part – either through a love for art and beauty or through clients’ desire for status. Evidently a smart-watch is infinitely more practical but it doesn’t generate emotions, it will never be a work of art and, it would have to go a long way to provide status to its wearer. That said, it’s more than likely that we’ll all wear something on each wrist - a “smart-watch” on one, “something with soul” on the other.
4. Traditionally MB&F presents the new first half-year products to its retailers during the SIHH and those of the second half-year at Baselworld. The two events are therefore equally important and during the two shows we take in approximately 80% of our yearly orders.
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?