How has your company performed in 2017 and what are your expectations in 2018? And in the current international context, has any particular market performed better and, equally, is there any region or market that underperformed?
We passed through the crisis quite well because we were still growing while the industry as a whole was shrinking. We had yet another record year in 2017 with growth of 12 per cent in sales but there are also some explanations for this. For example, China is by no means our biggest market, as it is for many other brands. We have been building the brand in China for over 10 years now and it is now starting to take off with the new generation of Chinese millennials. So growth came last year from Greater China (China, Hong Kong and Macau) where we grew 30 per cent, but from a much lower base of course, since Greater China only accounts for 9 per cent of our total sales. Our objective is 30 per cent, so there is still plenty of potential. The Chinese customer seems to be looking for something different and I think with the strong identity of our products and our art of fusion we are well placed to serve them.
With the FIFA World Cup in Russia this Summer, we expect to increase our brand awareness which could, we hope so, increase our sales
Are there markets where you consider you are under-represented?
After 10 years of fast expansion we believe we cover the main points of the globe, from the main luxury strongholds to the exclusive touristic areas. We are obviously constantly looking at opportunities and fast growing cities but overall our business is well balanced between all continents.
What is your strategic approach to distribution and retail. Do you operate any mono-brand boutiques? Do you have any plans in this respect?
We operate around 90 mono-brand boutiques around the world and we believe this is the right direction for the brand. We managed to build a brand strongly linked with the lifestyle of our customers and the boutiques are the best way for them to have an experience that is relevant to them and true to our message. The distribution between retailers and boutiques depends on the level of maturity (and size) of each market and in all cases we try to make sure our brand is represented fully: perfect display for our collections and strong brand message.
Many international luxury watch brands have been developing smaller collections and also more affordable models. What has been your approach?
Hublot goes where our clients are, and we create limited editions. It means we have a basic collection with iconic products of the Big Bang and Classic Fusion line, next to limited editions created with our partners. Consequently, we don’t have smaller collections but we have a different way of working compared to the other brands.
Regarding the price, our entry level is the Classic Fusion watch which is at 5’300 CHF but we didn’t decreased the prices or created more affordable watches.
To what extend your brands relates to luxury lifestyle? What is the profile of your most loyal consumer?
We have lots of relations to the lifestyle universe. Actually, we have a partnership with Italia Independent for instance, which is a fashion brand of sunglasses, where Lapo Elkann is CEO and Creative director. With them we created amazing watches with suit fabric from 70’s which are very successful, as well as a new collection that will be launched this Summer.
We also work with artists such as Maxime Buch, tattoo artist founder of Sang Bleu, Richard Orlinski, the French sculptor, or street artists Tristan Eaton for example.
Our clients are loyal to our Maison, as we create a special link between our company and themselves.
International luxury watch companies have recently started dedicated second hand businesses. What is your take?
This is not something we are looking at.
What are, in your opinion, the most important disruptors in your industry nowadays?
We are thinking differently, being always first, unique and different, so I would say Hublot!
Which are, presently, the most effective marketing tools for your company?
I would definitely say the most important marketing tool for Hublot is the event. As you can see, we have events all over the world. Everyday we have specific activities for clients or media. It allows Hublot to increase its brand awareness and to present its products to clients or prospects.
We have a 360° marketing: partnerships, dedicated watch, launch event and other possible events with our partners.
We stand for “The Art of Fusion”, so as an example, we created watches with the famous leather Maison, Berluti. After the launch event, we had specific animations with a watchmaker and a shoemaker around the world to let the people discover both our universe
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