In an exclusive interview to CPP-LUXURY.COM Raymond Weil CEO Elie Bernheim shares his vision behind the success of the family owned Swiss watchmaker.
How has your company performed in the past year and what are your expectations for 2014?
The past year has been profitable for us and the Brand is doing well. 2014 should follow the same path but being one of the last independent Swiss watchmaking companies, we need to remain conservative to be able to survive. Continuity and consistency over the time are key for us. I am optimistic but cautious. It is my duty to keep the vision of my late grandfather, Mr Raymond Weil, alive and to maintain a sustainable growth. Our strategy and price positioning will remain the same.
Is there a particular trend you would highlight in terms of bestseller products? (type of product, design, materials etc)
With the launch of the new Toccata collection this year, the idea was to offer a new simple, classic yet very elegant collection at a very interesting price point. I like the idea of affordable luxury, especially during uncertain economic periods. With its sleek lines and pure design, this collection reveals a real trend in the watchmaking industry. Customers are more and more looking for a great value for money and an understated product which is still beautiful and highly qualitative.
Given your pricing range, could we speak about an ‘’affordable luxury’’ positioning for your brand?
Definitely and as mentioned before, I like the idea of affordable luxury. It has always been RAYMOND WEIL’s priority to offer qualitative products at a reasonable price. It was my grandfather’s vision at the time he created our family Company and we are still focusing on products between CHF 800.- and CHF 3’000.- today. Our strength lies in what we are: a recognised name worldwide, a clearly defined positioning, elegant and affordable products.
Which are, presently, your best performing markets internationally in terms of sales? Are there any markets where you have seen a slow-down in sales?
The US and UK are RAYMOND WEIL’s biggest markets today. China is also an important market for us but we need to take into account the various changes and reforms the country faced in the past two years. But I think it is just a transition period, and the market will most probably continue to grow vigorously.
What is your strategic approach to distribution? Do you consider mono-brand representation, either as a boutique, corner or shop-in-shop?
The main challenge we have to face today as an independent brand is the distribution and the fight for space against big groups in the points of sale. Today, we have 15 boutiques worldwide but while being a family business gives us a lot of opportunities, we also need to be more careful and make sure we remain profitable when opening a new boutique.
Which do you consider as the most effective communications channels?
As a family-owned Company, it is very important for us to be close to our aficionados and provide them with information in an efficient way. We have a strong online presence and we fully embrace social media as it enables us to talk to our customers and fans who are more and more using alternative channels to get in touch with the brands.
What is your view on digital and online?
As said above, digital and online communication is key for us as our main priority is to be as close to our clients as possible. We are planning to intensify our digital presence in the coming months and try new ways to reach out to our community.
To what extent your brand relates to lifestyle?
RAYMOND WEIL offers a wide range of products to please the taste of each of its client. Our collections, inspired by the dear passion of the RAYMOND WEIL family, music, reflect the personality and lifestyle of our different customers. Distinctive, powerful and determinedly masculine, nabucco is destined for a new generation of strong-minded men – confident in their own style and appearance. The freelancer is dedicated to free spirits and personalities wanting to remain in control of their own destiny whereas the maestro collection symbolises harmony, elegance and timelessness with its classic lines. Every RAYMOND WEIL watch carries a lot of emotions and this is what we want to share with our clients.
Have you ever considered diversifying into other product categories? i.e. smartphones, accessories etc.
I’m convinced that a Brand should focus on its core business so we’d rather concentrate on ours, watchmaking. However, some RAYMOND WEIL accessories, like cufflinks or writing instruments, are available in our boutiques worldwide to accompany our watches.
Elie Bernheim was appointed CEO of RAYMOND WEIL in April 2014, succeeding his father, Olivier Bernheim, who joined the family company in 1982, becoming its President and CEO in 1996
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