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LONDON — Gc Watches has chosen London’s newly minted Westfield mall as the location for its first European store.
This story first appeared in the April 20, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In February, the watch house, which is operated by the Swiss company Sequel AG, a division of Timex, unveiled a 340-square-foot boutique in the sprawling mall. The store is on the edge of the center’s upscale Village area and nearby stores such as Tag Heuer, Tiffany, Dior and Louis Vuitton.
“I think Westfield is the only shopping center in Europe like this, especially in the middle of the city,” said Virginie Riot-Billet, vice president of Gc Watches, which is a registered trademark of Guess Inc. “There’s the best of the high street, plus premium fashion and lifestyle. It’s the perfect fit for the Gc brand.”
Sequel holds the license for Guess and Gc watches.
The store carries Gc’s entire collection of Swiss-made watches, which range in price from 270 euros, or $364 at current exchange, for a stainless steel watch from Gc’s Diver’s Chic collection to 3,000 euros, or $4,050, for a Gc-1 Automatic 7750 watch that incorporates a Valjoux Swiss movement. The store also carries the Gc jewelry collection that includes pieces made from sterling silver, mother-of-pearl and diamonds, and retails for up to 600 euros, or $809.
Riot-Billet expects the boutique to achieve sales of 1 million pounds, or about $1.4 million, in its first year.
Gc now has seven boutiques worldwide, with stores in India, Malaysia, South Korea and Panama, alongside the new London unit. Riot-Billet said the Gc brand had been “growing,” in the U.K. over the past two years through wholesale distribution and now the company is looking at opening more British units.
“We’re looking at different locations right now,” said Riot-Billet. “Our wish list for the U.K. [are the cities] Manchester, Birmingham and probably Dublin and Glasgow.”
The company plans to open 25 more boutiques worldwide this year in places such as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Paris, Geneva and Barcelona.
“We want to offer an environment to present the full [Gc] range,” said Riot-Billet.
The brand is distributed in the U.S. through Macy’s, Torneau and Guess stores, and Riot-Billet said the company is discussing opening stand-alone stores in America. Riot-Billet added she believes Gc’s positioning as an “accessible luxury” brand has insulated it somewhat from the economic downturn.
“I think, yes, the situation is a concern, but at the same time…we are not too worried, we are in a strong position right now,” said Riot-Billet. “I think this year can be really strong, thanks to our position.”