There have been a handful of CEOs that have taken to digital communication during the lock down like ducks to water.
Patrick Pruneaux, the top man Ulysse-Nardin and Girard-Perregaux — both owned by the Kering Group fashion empire — is a former part of the Apple Watch team so new-fangled media like Instagram and Zoom hold no fears, and he has used them effectively to launch new watches, communicate with partners and speak directly to consumers.
The brand would have unveiled its 2020 collections at Watches & Wonders Geneva but, when the physical event moved to an online portal, UN and GP decided not to participate, fearing that their messages would be lost. Instead, the brands have used PR, advertising and sponsorships to highlight launches including the Freak X Magma and Freak X Ice.
Both brands were also quickly back to work after lock down rules eased in Switzerland, announcing a return to manufacturing back on April 30 and Ulysse Nardin took a canny sponsorship of a Virtual Palm Beach Boat Show where luxury craft worth over $1 billion were flaunted under the noses of super-rich seafarers – a bullseye for UN’s target market.
Sales for Ulysse Nardin were estimated to have been around $95 million in 2019, according to Morgan Stanley, down a tick from $110 million in 2018.
That will not be reversed in 2020, but I would expect the brand to improve its position against rivals of a similar size such as Baume & Mercier and Certina, which have been almost silent this year.
Girard-Perregaux’s 2019 sales were estimated at $55 million, and should be well-placed to maintain most of that because of its exclusivity and focus on a narrow cohort of customers.
Rumours have been swirling for months that Kering is looking to sell its luxury watch business and, with the rising profile of Ulysse-Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, they could be canny acquisitions.