What does having your photo taken in a vineyard in the Surrey Hills say about you? “Er, that we really like wine,” quips Guy Allen, although he quickly follows that up with a much more sensible answer – business partner and marketing guru Carolyn Whitten-Brown will be proud. “We chose the winery because it’s a great English success story and we need to champion the diversity of British artisan business.”
This association with artisan businesses runs deeper than a sense of Great British nationality for Allen and Whitten-Brown. They have tied their own fortunes to a very small, independent company producing quality, artisan goods by taking on the distribution of Pequignet.
“I really believe that independence is going to be a buzz word for watch brands in the next few years and I think we put ourselves firmly ahead of the curve with what is a fantastic collection,” says Allen, referring to the Pequignet Manufacture collection he and Whitten-Brown launched in the UK this year that stars movements designed and created by the French brand.
In November, Pequignet won the Excellence Award for Technology at the 0024 European Watch of the Year Awards for its Royal Grand Sport model – which was Whitten-Brown’s proudest moment of the past 12 months – and Allen believes that consumers are starting to open up to a new side of the brand. “For many years we have been driven by our Moorea collection, which has over time built the business in the UK,” he says. “However, launching three or four new collections over the last two years has maybe refocused people’s attention on us and allowed us to be seen as broader than just Moorea.”
Whitten-Brown is not the only high flier in her family and with a husband in the RAF, balancing so juggling family life with him and their three sons can be challenging. But when they do manage to escape, Whitten-Brown says she relaxes by, “reading, travelling with my husband and skiing when I get the opportunity. As a family we enjoy exploring the Cotswolds which are on the doorstep as we live in Cheltenham.”
A broadening collection, technical kudos and the general buzz around independent brands will help drive Pequignet forward in the UK, believe Allen and Whitten-Brown, and they intend to be just the dynamic duo to lead the charge. If they can be tempted out of the winery, that is.