Richemont and Gübelin join forces to distribute watches

The luxury group Richemont, in collaboration with the watch retailer Gübelin, is strengthening the distribution network of its watch and jewelry houses with the opening of a multi-brand boutique in Lucerne.

The brand, called TimeVallée, is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

“This collaboration with TimeVallée allows us to diversify our business and offers a wide range of brands in Lucerne. (…)”, noted Wednesday Raphael Gübelin, president of the house also known for its jewelry pieces made of colored precious stones. .

TimeVallée was founded in 2014 by the Richemont group, which notably owns renowned brands such as Cartier and Vacheron Constantin. It has a network of 30 boutiques run by independent retailers, particularly in Asia.

In Lucerne, twenty luxury watch brands will be sold in the new boutique of more than 1,000 square meters. Alongside the houses belonging to the Geneva group, watch brands from the LVMH group such as Tag Heuer and Bulgari and independent houses such as Parmigiani and Oris and the jewelry brand Gübelin will also be represented.

“We will open this kind of shops where we have identified a need. When our traditional partners need an additional channel to develop business”, indicated the general manager of the Geneva luxury group, Jérôme Lambert, during a meeting. teleconference last year.

Retailers not unanimous

However, some watch retailers are reluctant to collaborate with Richemont on this TimeVallée concept. Questioned by the AWP agency, Brian Duffy, managing director of Watches of Switzerland, one of the most important British retailers, had noted last year that he did not intend to collaborate with Richemont on this concept, the Genevan having submitted this offered a few years ago.

“I understand this concept in Asia, which is a growing market, but Watches of Switzerland already has multi-brand stores with extraordinary designs and (management) systems,” he noted.

The expansion of TimeVallée, particularly in Europe, represents a slight change in strategy. In recent years, the Richemont watchmaking houses have mainly developed their single-brand boutiques, managed directly or by retailers.

Formerly boosted by tourism, particularly Asian tourism, the Lucerne region and its businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, health restrictions linked to Covid-19 having prevented tourists from visiting this region and acquiring Swiss watches and other luxury goods.

According to Tourism Switzerland, urban hotels are particularly affected by the absence of these distant travellers. Lucerne still had around a third fewer overnight stays in the first half of 2022 than in the same period in 2019.

The luxury sector in general and Swiss watchmaking, however, have recovered from the pandemic. Watch exports, a key indicator for the sector, strengthened by 11.4% to 14.1 billion francs over the first seven months of 2022. Despite the robustness of the Swiss timepiece industry in recent months, a slowdown cannot be ruled out, as soaring prices, particularly of energy, could also weigh on the morale of wealthy people, great lovers of luxury watches.

This article has been published automatically. Source: ats/awp

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