Interview Hours & Minutes India, Karishma Karer meets William Besse, International Sales Manager, Frederique Constant, in Mumbai to discuss the brands plans for India as well as the novelties the group will present in the upcoming Baselworld.
Geneva-based Swiss watchmaker Frederique Constant is known for watches assembled by hand and extensively controlled with latest equipment to ensure maximum quality. The manufacture has its factory in Plan-les-Quates in Geneva. Over the years, they have stunned the watchmaking world with a veritable and delectable collection of timepieces year after year.
On the eve of Baselworld 2014, Karishma Karer meets William Besse, International Sales Manager, Frederique Constant, in Mumbai to discuss the brands plans for India as well as the novelties the group will present in the upcoming Baselworld. She learns that the brand is indeed working towards making India
amongst its top markets in the accessible luxury segment. It sees a huge potential for growth on Indian soil, and is moving surely and steadily towards that goal. Excerpts from the conversation:
IN BASELWORLD 2014 YOU WILL CELEBRATE 10 YEARS OF PRODUCING IN-HOUSE CALIBRES BY INTRODUCING THE 14TH ONE…YOUR VIEWS
It was quite innovative for Frédérique Constant to start manufacturing our own calibres ten years ago. We were still quite young. At that time, no brand on the accessible luxury segment manufactured movements. Only very high-end brands had their own calibres. It was indeed an important move as today a lot of brands are developing their own calibres but they have only one
or two years of experience behind them, while we already have ten years and thirteen calibres.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER BASELWORLD 2014 NOVELTIES?
We have around fifty novelties! It is quite a lot compared to others and to our own core range as well. This is possible since
we have our own manufacture and a full team dedicated to this. We can thus develop and propose novelties in terms of movement and design. We have our own designers and machines where we can produce movements with over 200 parts. We believe it is good to bring fresh novelties to the trade because at the end we believe it is this that generates more sell-outs.
HOW HAS YOUR PERFORMANCE IN INDIA BEEN LAST YEAR AND WHAT ARE THE KEY TARGETS FOR 2014?
It has been good. We have experienced constant growth. We reached our main targets. Our first target for India was establishing distribution. We have twenty-five points of sale today in India. For 2014 we have three main objectives. We want to improve our presentation in the point of sales. This will involve
implementing creative marketing initiatives.
This also involves making the shop-windows alive and focusing on good merchandising. This is getting back to the basics. We are also going to introduce a new model within the Devnagri scripts collection. We will expand and reinforce our distribution. We are interacting with our key partners for this in identifying strategic areas and partners. We want to implement the brand in new cities. Lastly, we want to establish communication continuity. We want inline communication with our target audience, that is, the corporate executives. We started this last year, sponsoring the program “Inline five” on CNBC. It is a marketing competition between fourteen best business schools in India. These are the guys that will be tomorrow’s corporate executives! We also want to do events in stores to promote launching of novelties.
WHAT ARE THE EVENTS THAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT FOR THE COMING YEAR?
We are looking at events at points of sales. This is a part of going back to the basics and strengthening our ties with partners. This will also help us to give training to our staff there and make sure the brand is well represented. We will of course continue with advertising in the media. So far, we haven’t finalized any big events here as year. In May 2014, in Switzerland we will be
having a big event to celebrate ten years of the Heartbeat
INDIA IS A VERY DIVERSE MARKET. CAN YOU COMMENT ON ANY INTERESTING DIFFERENCES IN THE MARKET – BOTH WITHIN INDIA AND COMPARING INDIA TO FOREIGN MARKETS?
It is diverse but we target the corporate executives. Firstly, even if we are in the accessible luxury segment, for many people it is still expensive. That’s why we specifically target our segment. Even if it is pretty diverse we are a global brand. We can see that
worldwide our top ten to fifteen bestsellers are the same. The only thing that changes in India is that our target will be more defined. We can reach many different categories worldwide, but in India, especially because it is a relatively new market for us, we have this specific target. So far we have had good results and so it shows that we have made the right choice.
WHICH ARE THE NEW CITIES THAT YOU ARE TARGETING IN INDIA?
We have to see more about the possible customer instead of the cities. Wherever we can find a good partner, we will go. We are well implemented in main cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Of course, we still have potential. We are looking for the right partner. We are not in a rush.
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN INDIA MATURE AS A MARKET? THE BRAND HAS BEEN HERE FIRMLY SINCE 2009….
There is still a lot to do. A market is mature when it is difficult to implement new points of sale. In India, opportunities are big.
Retailers are planning to expand and develop. It is really big. We have to be patient. For me, India is the next China. In next five years it will be what China is already. For us, it is thus important to have solid bases. We know that we will be able to grow with our partners.
DOES ALPINA ALSO HAVE A PRESENCE IN INDIA?
Not as yet. It is the second brand of the group. It is oriented towards classic sports. We have seen that introducing a brand in a market, especially in India takes time and resources. Also, that segment is crowded in India. Currently, we will focus on
Frédérique Constant Constant.
JUST AS THE DEVNAGRI SCRIPT WATCH ARE YOU PLANNING TO LAUNCH ANY OTHER SPECIAL COLLECTIONS FOR INDIA?
It is a unique watch in India mixing Indian heritage and the expertise of the Swiss watch business. It is still one of our
bestsellers. It is also affordable in terms of price and has a great quality-price ratio. This year we have decided to do the same watch with our new bracelet.
WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE WATCH?
It is the new Slimline Moonphase manufacture because it is really elegant, not crowded, quiet but sophisticated. It has a unique price. It’s really me!