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Zenith works towards matching sell-in with sell-out in mission to minimise sleeping stock for retailers

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Almost three years into the tenure of Julien Tornare as chief executive of Zenith, the turnaround strategy is starting to show results.

The LVMH-owned brand notched a double-digit rise in sales last year, despite shrinking its network of retailers from 841 doors to 620 world-wide, Mr Tornare told WatchPro in conversation during Baselworld in March.

“And we are going to go further down to 500 accounts,” he adds.

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The direction since Mr Tornare took over as CEO in 2017 has been to streamline the business and focus on its bestsellers with clearer product development and story lines. As well as reducing the number of retailers it works with, Zenith has also trimmed the number of watch styles it makes. “We shrunk the SKUs from 178 to close to 100 now,” he reveals.

Most welcome for remaining retail partners is Zenith’s approach to sales. Gone are the days when the only number that mattered to the board was the value of watches selling into retail. Now the company obsesses about what is selling through to consumers.

“We have a system that fully aligns sell-in and sell-out. That is a big deal because the industry disease of the past has been to focus only on sell-in to retailers, meaning that we produce, we sell, we deliver [to retailers], we are done. That is wrong,” Mr Tornare explains.

“Now, we produce and start delivering and we monitor what is happening with sales at the retailer. If things go wrong or sales are slower than expected, we shrink down because nobody can afford to carry sleeping stock. That is the past. I no longer want to say: look, I did my numbers as a brand with sell-in, but 60% has sold-out. I need sell-out to be 100% of sell-in,” he states.

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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