Interview with Michele Sofisti CEO of Sowind Group
September 27, 2012
JP: What does being under the financial umbrella of the Gucci group mean to Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard going forward?
MS: A very, very important move. Most important because it gives a total security of the future, total security for our partners on the industrial side, they know it will be long lasting. Also for our partners in distribution and our retailers. A company that has a bright future in front of it, this is the most important. The second important thing, we entered into a group that is run with a lot of respect from brand history, quality and heritage. This is really very important for a brand like Girard-Perregaux with 210 years of history.
JP: How has the transition been, and what are your expectations and hopes in moving from the exclusive trade only SIHH show (whom GP was a founding brand), to the world's largest watch and jewelry show Baselworld?
MS: I don't know if I should talk about a transition, I should call it an evolution, a natural evolution of the brand. We are going to make a lot of changes, but in a sense of evolution. In a sense that we need to keep thinks very simple. The whole system will be really clear on what Girard-Perregaux means and is doing. We have changed completely our communication and marketing, we are very active in the digital world, on the web and social media. We have created a very popular project called "The Young Watchmaker the New Face of Tradition" where we have young watchmakers traveling the world to express the future. We are changing our collection of watches to simplify, with four families of products, plus the high-end and tourbillons. This will make our production capacity quicker, with better quality and more flexible - particularly in reacting to market demands. I can also proudly say that within one year we (GP) are going to come out with two new positive products, after 10-12 months of development. Plus a new product on the high-end, a very big complication - all this in one year. Two new product families, plus two new high-ends, and the Dominique Loiseau project.
JP: How important are in-house movements, especially considering recent changes within the Swatch Group's movement and parts divisions?
MS: For Girard-Perregaux it is fundamental, Girard-Perregaux is an integrated manufacture, this is the skill of the brand, it has always been like this. The reality is we were going to do it, even more work in our shop, not because of the difficulties outside, but because this is the mission of the company. For the second brand that we have, JeanRichard, that is a little bit different because we have reworked the company, in the sense that from the logo to the product - everything is new. We are going to introduce all this newness in November in Switzerland, from there we are going to reposition the brand with more industrial components, possibly ETA movements. In that, ok, but we need to see how things will evolve in the industry, because you know there is a lot of tension and discussion.
JP: Does being part of the Gucci group mean that GP and/or JR will move towards higher volume and less handmade timepieces? Is there any talk about moving Gucci watches more upmarket?
MS: First thing is that Gucci Group doesn't exist anymore, in a sense now there is PPR, it is divided into luxury lifestyle and other brands. So Gucci is one brand within the luxury division, then there Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard. Each brand is completely independent, each has its own history, its own way of moving, proceeding in the market. We are enjoying three years of double digit growth. I don't think that because of this Girard-Perregaux needs to make more volume, or that Gucci watches needs to go more high-end. I think Gucci watches will stay in the same price point which is around 740 Euros average, and this is perfect positioning. And Girard-Perregaux is another positioning, and this is also a good place. Each brand has its own way. It could happen maybe that one day we could do anniversary celebration pieces together. Last year, we did with a Gucci timepiece with a Dubois Depraz movement, to celebrate 90 years of Gucci. One thing is to do a special celebration piece, one thing is to go high-end. I don't think this is the mission of Gucci watches.
JP: What can we expect from GP and JR in the future, any teasers? GP dive watch?
MS: Definitely yes, a new GP diver's watch will be ready in the new sport collection in November, so we are already there with that watch. JeanRichard will introduce a completely new collection, starting from next year. And with GP, as I was telling you before, we have completely updated the collection in the sense that two new families are going to come, and a few new pieces on the high-end. So the look of the collection will be quite different than today.
Is the dive watch going to have any new complications or anything unusual? No, no, it will be in the future, we made a new shape of watch, a new look, with in-house movement that we are already using in other sport watches.
Photo courtesy of Roberta Naas of Atimelyperspective.