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NEW YORK — Omega will nearly double its store count in the U.S. as it works to further expand its reach in the American market.
This story first appeared in the October 16, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
During a breakfast here Stephen Urquhart, president of the Switzerland-based watch brand, said the company currently operates 26 stores in the U.S., all corporately owned, and he believes the market can sustain between 40 and 50 units. “That would be perfectly compatible,” he said, noting that the performance of the stores has “gone well overall.”
In 2010, Omega announced a major commitment to the American market. At that time, there was only one store in the U.S., on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Urquhart said he believes New York City, which still has only that one store, can easily add more units. “We have seven stores in London, six in Paris, eight in Beijing and nine in Shanghai,” he said. “And there’s one in New York.” He mentioned the Meatpacking District as a possible target for the future.
Outside of New York, an Omega store has opened in Atlanta, and Dallas is slated for the end of the year. The company’s first boutique in Brazil will open in December.
In addition to filling in stores in existing locations, Urquhart believes secondary markets are also an untapped opportunity for the brand.
All told, Omega operates 260 monobrand stores around the world, 110 of which are corporately owned.
He said retailers that carry the brand have been accepting of Omega’s big retail push, realizing “it’s not an all-out battle to take business away.” Instead, he said, “it gives our brand incredible visibility,” and sales at Omega’s retail customers generally increase after a monobrand store opens.
In addition to retail, Omega is also putting its proprietary coaxial escapement movement on center stage next year and will advertise the process in its marketing materials and through exhibitions around the world. “This has to be the focus for us for the next 10, 20, 30 years,” Urquhart said. He admitted, however, that talking about the movement is “cold — there’s not much emotion,” and customers generally buy watches because they like the way they look. The goal, then is to make a beautiful watch that also sports precision movement.
“Our main competition never talk about movement,” he said. “But we don’t want to be a niche player. This year, we will make 487,000 watches and, next year, over 500,000 [with the coaxial technology].”
Outside of the technology arena, Omega will continue its commitment to the Olympics by once again serving as the official timekeeper for the Sochi games; it will introduce new product for the America’s Cup, and it has created a limited-edition Seamaster Planet Ocean Skyfall for the new James Bond movie due out on Nov. 9.