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“An area where each brand’s identity is fully...

“An area where each brand’s identity is fully respected”

Friday, 12 July 2013
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Anaïs Georges du Clos
Freelance journalist

“Nothing great has been accomplished in this world without passion.”

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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5 min read

Bucherer made a splash in Paris when it celebrated its 125th anniversary with the opening of the group’s biggest store, extending over 2,200 square metres and three floors, just minutes from Place Vendôme and Place de la Madeleine. An interview with Nathalie Celia, General Manager for Bucherer France.

Bucherer already had 24 stores in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Why Paris, and why now?

The family-owned Bucherer group is one of the major players in high-end watch and jewellery retailing in Europe. Paris is the world capital of fashion, luxury and tourism, so it was only natural that we should follow our clientele to one of their favourite destinations. Also, this year is the 125th anniversary of Maison Bucherer, which seemed the perfect opportunity to take up residence at such a prestigious address.

Would you say it's a consecration for the group?

I prefer to call it a new step. We hope to announce more openings in the future.

The store is in the immediate vicinity of Boulevard Haussmann, Place de la Madeleine, and Place Vendôme. What type of clientele are you targeting, and what will they find at Bucherer that they weren't being offered elsewhere?

With our “shop in shop” concept, we invite customers to browse an area where each brand’s identity is fully respected but sales staff are employed by the group, hence they are completely unbiased. Unlike monobrand stores, which don’t allow comparisons between different brands, or department stores which often operate concessions, we see it as our role to guide the customer. We propose the widest possible selection and the best attention and advice so that our customers can make an informed choice. Like most other retailers, we target an international clientele of individuals and groups, although our impressive floor space and extended opening times, from 8am to 8pm, and to 9pm on Thursday, mean we also cater to local customers who may be put off by the crowds at nearby stores. Our philosophy has always been that we should adapt to the customer’s agenda, not vice versa, and we apply this principle in Paris as much as anywhere else.

This new store opening comes at a time when watch distribution is undergoing global structural change. How do you plan to come out ahead?

For a long time, many brands preferred to put their distribution in the hands of independent resellers. Now they’re tempted to handle retail themselves, despite the costs and the risks involved. At Bucherer, we believe people will always buy from department stores, which offer a far wider range of products than just watches and jewellery. We also see the increase in the number of monobrand stores as a logical evolution, as it enables these companies to know who their customers are, control their image and provide quality service. As for multibrand stores, despite being somewhat shaken up of late they are still the only places customers can compare a range of brands. The advantage of our positioning is that we combine all three models: we’re a large store specialising in watches and jewellery that presents different brands, each with its individual identity, inside an open space.

The fact that competition in Paris is tougher than in Lucerne makes customer relations all the more important. What's your approach?

This is certainly a key point as we are effectively starting from scratch. We’re in the process of compiling a customer database, in strict accordance with French data protection requirements. We enter the information our customers choose to give us about their preferences in watches and jewellery. We’re enjoying quite some success. Starting in September, we’ll be hosting events focused on a brand, or a complication or a particular culture, say Russian or Chinese. We’ll also be directing our attention to women, who are increasingly interested in mechanical watches.

Are the 23 brands carried by the store on Boulevard des Capucines the same as in the other Bucherer stores, or is there a "French exception"?

The selection we propose in Paris is very similar to that in the other Bucherer stores. We would have liked to include Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or Breguet; regrettably, the agreements they have with other Parisian retail partners prevent us from working with them at the present time. As for Cartier, which remains the ultimate Parisian brand, our customers will soon be able to enjoy direct access to the Cartier boutique which will shortly be opening next door.

Nathalie Célia, General Manager, Bucherer France SAS

After graduating from EDHEC business school in 1992, Nathalie Célia began her career as an accounts and tax auditor with Ernst & Young. She went on to specialise in distribution, mastering its finer points with successive roles as manager of the Louis Vuitton store at Galeries Lafayette, perfumes manager at Sephora on the Champs Elysées, and director of accessories and luxury sales at Printemps Haussmann. Following her appointment as general manager of Bucherer France SAS in August 2012, she helped launch the Parisian flagship store, which is the largest of the group’s 25 stores.

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