CEO of luxury watchmaker JeanRichard, Massimo Macaluso, chats to Aficionado about business over the past year and plans for the future.
How was 2011 for JeanRichard?
You know, it was a strange year for us because we had a lot of changes in the past three years. First, my father, who founded the group Gerrard Perrigeaux, which owns JeanRichard, passed away last year, so that posed a lot of challenges for us. Secondly, the PPR Group, which already had a 23 per cent stake in our group, they increased the stake to 51 per cent, hence taking majority control. This means a lot of things. We have to get to understand our new partners and get to work together. But overall, the year was a good one.
So, which is your biggest market?
Asia. We already have two bases in China, which is the biggest market within Asia. Our bases are in Hong Kong and Shanghai. This is a very important market for a niche brand like ours. It was a positive year, generally speaking. But we want to look ahead to see what we can do in the future.
Talking about Chinese tastes, a number of companies have launched special editions for the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese market. Have you also done something similar?
No, because if you deliver a watch in September or October you have only five months, so it is not enough. The second reason is because the Chinese consumers are becoming bold, and my experience is that they like special editions, but not necessarily things such as the Year of the Dragon. They may prefer more European style. They would like special editions, but not dragon or red watches.
How key is the Middle Eastern or Gulf market for you?
It is important and not only for the local population, but because a lot of Chinese and Russian tourists come to places like Dubai. So, we have to improve our outlet there. We have formed a new team for this mission and it is important for us to learn from our mistakes in the past.
How will life change for you now that PPR has taken a 51 per cent stake?
It should be fine. When you tie up with a big group like PPR, it means that they are convinced about the project and they have taken only 51 percent stake, which means they have the financial and commercial control, but we are pretty much left untouched and we still have the same position as we had before acquisition, so we are quite independent, which is something very rare when a big group acquires you.
So, how do you think PPR will help you grow?
It would be through increased brand awareness and benefiting from synergy like getting access to new boutiques in markets like the United States. And, as they are a strong company, it means we can have greater visibility
and a cushion against the gold price increase.