Fossil UK Ltd will next month withdraw from both the Company of Master Jewellers and Houlden Group as a strategic move away from buying groups.
Fossil UK Ltd, based in Milton Keynes, submitted one year notice to the CMJ in February 2013 with CMJ members being informed in April that year.
All of the Fossil Group brands have, up until now, been purchased by and sold through CMJ retail members with Fossil an Approved Supplier partner of the CMJ since 2007. Houlden Group would not comment on the matter citing the confidentially of its suppliers.
Helen Wood, managing director of Fossil UK Ltd, spoke to WatchPro.com, saying: “We are strategically moving away from all buying groups, so both CMJ and Houlden. We gave notice and that notice expires in February. It’s certainly our intention that neither CMJ nor Houlden Group members will be affected detrimentally by this decision in terms of support from Fossil.
“We see this change, as do our retail partners, as a positive move. It is critical to us that, in line with our selective distribution agreements, that every decision we make and every interaction we have supports our brand’s integrity. With us working more closely with each one of our retail partners, for us this really negates the need to work through a buying group.”
New terms have been negotiated between Fossil and the retailers that they previously supplied through the buying groups, although it is not known how the new terms compared to those offered previously.
Watches under the Fossil banner represent a huge slice of fashion watch market share in the UK. The company produces and distributes watches under license for Michael Kors, Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange, DKNY, Karl Lagerfeld, Burberry, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diesel and Tory. Fossil also owns the Fossil, Skagen, Michelle and Zodiac watch brands.
Michael Kors dominates the UK fashion watch market with GfK data pointing to the brand achieving 79.3% of all female watch sales between £200-250 in Q2 2014 also increasing its share of the £250-300 price point to 58.2%. GfK data also ranks Emporio Armani as the most popular men’s fashion watch brand in the UK for sales between £300-350 price point in Q2.
Willie Hamilton, chief executive of the CMJ, said: “The CMJ has worked with Fossil Group since 2007 to build strong relationships with CMJ independents. Over this time, we have been instrumental in the sales growth of Fossil brands in the UK, by introducing them to the independent market and helping the Fossil Group to focus on the right brands for the right retailers.
“We collaborated closely with Fossil on range development, category management and provided market analysis. However, the new Fossil management now feel they are in a position to manage this themselves. The CMJ continues to work closely and collaboratively with many other best-selling watch brands in the UK, including Casio, Seiko, Citizen, Bering, Raymond Weil, Rotary, Ball Watches, Maurice Lacroix, Bulova, Ice-Watch, Guess and Gc watches, Police, Karen Millen, SuperDry, Timberland and Roamer, who will all be exhibiting new products at our trade event in Birmingham next month.”
Wood pointed out that Fossil’s decision to work directly with retailers has been well-received, adding: “Within the selective distribution agreement what we needed to do was take control of our distribution roadmap and work more directly and more collaboratively with our retail partners. Since April 2014 we’ve not received any negative feedback from any of the independent retailers at all, in fact, many of them have given us direct feedback that actually they see it as quite a positive thing."