“I think everyone’s mental frankly,” says Patrick Mouffaridge, when asked about his nomination into the WatchPro Hot 100. “I couldn’t stop laughing when I found out about it. I’ve spent the last seven years doing everything in secret – no interviews, no advertising, no press – and the one time I do open up to the press this happens.”
Frankly, he is a whirlwind – verbose, energetic, playful. But there is a dynamic and decisive entrepreneurial spirit to him too and that was at work when he signed up to distribute distinctive Italian brand U-Boat in the UK.
“For the first four or five years it was just me working from my bedroom. I outsourced everything – repairs, the lot – so it just looked after itself. I set up a wicked system and was able to turn over a £1 million on my own with just a laptop.”
That’s not the sort of thing everyone can do. Patrick is a one off, and he kind of knows it.
“I’ve always been really frustrated at people who think that if you’re creative, you’re not techy and vice versa. I blabber endlessly, I’m high energy, but I built an incredible system. The worst thing is when you see someone with creative ideas and when they get down to details, can’t execute it. If you are a chief executive, it’s your responsibility to have in-depth vision of every aspect of the business. And I mean in-depth. You cannot afford to say ‘this is my specialist’ and let them get on with it.”
Clearly he’s utterly dedicated and this attitude has paid off. This year has been good for U-Boat in the UK.
“We are already up 25% on last year. That is gigantic. It’s because we started advertising. We thought if we are doing this well without advertising, imagine how well we could do with it. Ian [Robb, communications] has been talking to all the magazines and bloggers and the reaction from all of these has been amazing. We’re blessed.”
He is clear that this year marks some sort of watershed and his moment of opening up to the world has let the light in to his operations and brought him centre stage in the industry.
At the same time, working with account director Hannah Burden-Teh, he has trimmed the stockist list from 24 to 18.
Looking ahead, he teases us with cryptic promises of brand new U-Boat launches in the not too distant future. “We actually have something really big in the pipeline for August, which absolutely no-one knows about yet. It will take the brand to whole new level. But I can’t tell you what yet.”
For once, he remains quiet. You can bet that won’t last long.
Former U-Boat UK distributor Patrick Mouffaridge was a CMJ Brand Champion in the WatchPro Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.