Stefano Macaluso, Vice President at Girard-Perregaux: We are benefiting from PPR’s real-estate portfolio for our new boutiques and are supplying movements to the Boucheron brand. These are the first synergies we have developed since PPR took a 23% share of Sowind’s capital, and more will follow in the years to come. We are studying each of the various opportunities for cooperation that are in both partners’ interests. That said, a lot of the brands in the PPR group are in fashion, a sector where we have no wish to develop. Gucci is a slightly different case in point. Although the brand is positioned in a lower price range than Girard-Perregaux or JeanRichard, opportunities for joint development do exist. I’d like to make clear that under the terms of our agreement, PPR will not become a majority shareholder of Sowind. As for us, we’ve used this fresh capital primarily to strengthen our industrial base.
Beyond the current situation, we are witnessing a return to simpler, traditional designs. In this light, Girard-Perregaux is presenting a modern interpretation of forms inherited from its past, adapted to the latest technologies and innovation. For example, the Vintage 1945 and the Girard-Perregaux 1996 Annual Calendar and Equation of Time, two of this year’s new models, are new iterations of classics from the brand’s heritage. Ditto for sports watches, with the Monte-Carlo 1973 and Monte-Carlo 1983 chronographs. These two ranges are completed by the ww.tc Shadow, a more technical piece with a ceramic case, flyback chronograph and worldtimer display. We are in the last stages of constructing the movement for the constant escapement which we unveiled last year. It will be a further 18 months to two years before the first watch with this movement is launched.
The situation at end 2008 was most positive, having posted excellent results for the first nine months of the year. As statistics show, the branch did encounter difficulties in the last quarter and the situation hasn’t evolved much since, remaining highly unpredictable. The best tactic at the present time is to build for the future day by day, by making for a more stable situation in the USA, reassuring certain Asian markets that are still growing, and seeking out new opportunities wherever Girard-Perregaux is less well-represented.
We want to go on working with our selective network of retailers, at the same time keeping our mono-brand stores, differentiating our approach to suit each country. In Asia, for example, we are working alongside local retailers, as we are in Prague where we recently opened. We have adopted this same indirect approach in Switzerland, in Gstaad, and in New York. We currently have six boutiques that carry the Girard-Perregaux name and will shortly be opening a seventh. We are continuing to seek out new opportunities, as these flagship stores have an important role to play in explaining Girard-Perregaux’s values and collections. The most important thing is to strike the right balance between these two channels.
Whereas some years it seemed there was no limit to how much we could grow, the situation today means we are able to focus on our core values. Girard-Perregaux is a historic and legitimate Manufacture with proven technological expertise. This is exactly what we need to convey today by showing what the brand is capable of achieving over the long term. In other words, we have slowed down the number of new products while emphasising creativity. Let’s not forget that while this is a global economic crisis, especially in the short term, the skills and expertise that distinguish Fine Watchmaking are timeless.