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Zenith, ready for take-off

Zenith, ready for take-off

Tuesday, 30 April 2013
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

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3 min read

Interviewed at Baselworld 2013, Zenith Chief Executive Jean-Frédéric Dufour talked about the strategy of a brand that’s heading for the heights after which it is named.

Since taking over the reins of the company four years ago, Jean-Frédéric Dufour has hammered home the message that rebuilding Zenith is his one and only priority. Today the brand is entering the final phase after which the transformation will be complete.

Which aspect of the brand will you be highlighting this year?

Jean-Frédéric Dufour, president and CEO of Zenith: This year we’re focusing on Zenith’s image. A new visual identity that must convey our values will be the last brick in our reconstruction of the brand. Our redeveloped website as well as our new booth at Baselworld are all part of the process. We want the world to know that for almost 150 years, Zenith has been involved in all kinds of record-breaking adventures through highly precise, quality instruments, of the type represented by the watches that are driven by El Primero movements. In this respect, Zenith has had its part to play in building the modern world, hence why we want to be the watch for today’s heroes. Our partnership with Felix Baumgartner, the first person to have skydived through the sound barrier, is a good example.

Presumably you've finished the new product segmentation?

Yes we have. The Academy collection delivers Zenith’s full expertise and shows that we can produce timepieces other companies are unable to make. The Hurricane with its 939 parts, high-frequency calibre, unique gravity control system, and constant-force fusee and chain transmission is the epitome of Zenith. We also have three other collections: Captain, in a classic vein, Pilot, dedicated to the open skies and using El Primero movements, an icon of Swiss watchmaking, and Heritage which is for women. Currently, women’s watches account for 15% of our sales and I think we can take that figure closer to 30%.

Speaking of the El Primero, we're expecting a revolutionary chronograph movement in autumn 2013. Can you tell us more?

All I can say for the time being is that our research is focusing on new materials.

Last year's Pilot Montre d'Aéronef Type 20, fitted with vintage calibres, and the tourbillon, chronograph and GMT versions you've issued this year have been a success. Are there plans to make it a collection in its own right?

The first Aéronef Type 20 was indeed a success. It’s already fetching 30% more than its original retail price at auction. Our objective, however, is to have a high turnover of Zenith products in the stores because they appeal to customers. In this respect, it would be pointless to have a catalogue with 1,500 references and a string of different collections.

On the subject of distribution, will you carry on with more store openings?

Most of our distribution goes through resellers, who are an important point of contact with our customers. We have opened 13 Zenith stores in strategic locations for the brand, but the objective isn’t to open one store after another.

Zenith's sales are said to have increased significantly these past few years. Can you confirm this?

We have effectively recorded average growth in the region of 30% in recent years. Obviously we can’t expect to maintain this level of development for years and years to come, which doesn’t mean we aren’t aiming for double-digit growth. We’ve finished rebuilding the brand. Now Zenith is ready to take off. We have the whole future to look forward to.

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