Jean-Claude Biver, former head of LVMH watchmaking, has lived through the quartz crisis, several pandemics and a global financial meltdown, and sees significant opportunities for watchmakers that bounce back quickly from the covid quarter.
“Some brands will be out of the crisis in September, they will have a January comparable to last year. They will have a typical V-shaped recovery. Some other brands will have to wait a few more weeks or months, until maybe March 2021,” he predicts in an interview with Time & Tide magazine.
Turmoil amplifies success and failure, and stretches the gap between winners and losers, Mr Biver suggests.
“Brands that were already in a bad shape before the crisis might suffer much more than the strong. The strong will get out of the crisis by becoming stronger, and the weak will get out of crisis by getting weaker, and will eventually disappear. We have to know in which camp are we,” he says.
“You know, in mathematics, the difference between plus one and minus one is two. When there is no crisis, your competitors are zero, and when you make one – the difference is one. In a crisis, your competitors might be minus one. When you still make one, you have two. It’s a very magical effect that people sometimes forget! That’s why in the crisis you must really do all you can to gain market share,” Mr Biver continues.
This math means that covid has the potential to create a new cohort of winners that grab market share during the downturn.
“At Hublot we are certainly among the strong. Which means, for us, the crisis must become an opportunity to become stronger and to gain market share. That’s now our main concern. During the crisis, how can the crisis be our friend and not our enemy? Because if the crisis is the enemy, you are lost, you cannot win. So, when the crisis becomes your friend, then you have the synergy of the crisis and you can make market share,” Mr Biver, who remains non-executive chairman for LVMH watchmaking, concludes.