EXCLUSIVE: Jean-Claude Biver backs Wempe in row over Nomos signing Chrono24 and Chronext as official partners

Jean-Claude Biver, chairman of LVMH’s Watchmaking Division says that Nomos has not acted honorably when it allegedly failed to consult with its existing partners before signing Chronext and Chrono24 as official dealers.

Wempe reacted furiously to the decision, and pulled Nomos from its stores world-wide, including its flagship stores in New York and London.

“Without Wempe, Nomos would have been nothing, so Wempe is right. It is not fair,” Mr Biver says in conversation with WatchPro.

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“Nomos has shown a lack of respect. That is rude just to go with Chrono24 and Chronext. The behaviour of Nomos is questionable from a gentleman’s point of view,” he continues.

Kim-Eva Wempe, the multi-national retailer’s CEO, was even more incensed by the decision. “Supplying products to Internet platforms that have not been licensed to date, and that primarily draw their product range from the gray market, is contrary to our marketing strategy,” she said. “As a family-owned company with a long tradition, we have a concept of partnership that does not include such behavior.”

Nomos’s decision to appoint Chrono24 and Chronext might also have breached the spirit, if not the letter of its contract with Wempe, Mr Biver suggests. “Chrono24 is just a platform where jewellers can sell their watches. This means that if Nomos had given Wempe a certain exclusivity, that exclusivity is now gone,” he hints.

It may also backfire from a brand image point of view. Global platforms like Chronext and Chrono24 have massive reach and amass huge amounts of valuable customer data, but that does not mean Nomos will automatically benefit from working with them.

Mr Biver says: “It is not enough to be distributed by businesses like Chronext and Chrono24. Nomos needs to maintain a certain image with consumers. If it has zero status, why should people buy it even they find the watches on Chrono24? It is not enough only to have the distribution, you also need everything else. Customers do not buy something just because it is for sale. The customer buys because you are selling something that he has been dreaming about buying. Nomos cannot forget that Chrono24 and Chronext can do a great job, but they cannot build up desire, they cannot build up irrationality, and this is what Nomos needs. Who can build up desire and irrationality? Mr Wempe yes, Watches of Switzerland yes, but not Chrono24. The thinking of Nomos is a bit short term and they might fall on their nose,” he concludes.

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