NEW YORK — Riding high on the recent momentum for watches, Tourneau is seizing the moment and embarking on an aggressive growth plan.
The privately held watch retailer, which now has 17 stores and annual sales estimated at about $140 million, plans to open three stores before the end of the year, in downtown San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., and in Las Vegas, where the firm will incorporate a new store design.
Tourneau also is stepping up its marketing investments, expanding and renovating existing stores and freshening up its flagship on Madison Avenue here — considered the world’s largest watch store, with a citation from "Guinness World Records" to prove it. It is also beefing up its private label watch business as part of an overall effort to brand the Tourneau name, and plans to increase its investment in Watch Gear, its lower-priced retail concept aimed at younger, more fashionable shoppers.
"Watches are now a fashion accessory and a statement piece," said Andrew Block, Tourneau’s senior vice president of marketing. "And the diversity of styles now available have made watches more appealing."
When asked if now was a difficult time to be expanding due to the uncertain economy, Block said: "The market is favorable for retailers to get premium locations. There is certainly a desire for landlords to bring in tenants that will perform well for them."
Founded in 1900, Tourneau has built its business by selling and promoting high-end Swiss watches. While it has dabbled in jewelry and other categories, watches are the company’s primary focus, and it now carries some 100 brands ranging from flashy newcomers such as Grimoldi to stalwarts, including Seiko and Citizen and luxury names such as Rolex and Patek Philippe.
While other watch-only stores have sprung up in the last decade, including Watch World and Watch Station, both of these concepts have concentrated on lower-priced watch offerings. Tourneau’s competition primarily comes from independent jewelers, many of whom don’t carry more than a handful of watch brands, and department stores, where watches compete with many other fashion categories.
Tourneau now views itself as a national chain and sees plenty of opportunity ahead. Block said the firm plans to open at least two to three new stores a year for the next several years."We won’t move into a location that is not sustainable, manageable and successful right out of the box," Block said. "That is key to our expansion."
The San Francisco store, set to open early next month, will occupy 900 square feet and will be located in the San Francisco Shopping Centre, a retail mall between Union Square and the South of Market entertainment district downtown. Next up is the San Jose unit, which is slated to bow in mid-September. The Tourneau store there is part of a new mixed-use concept called Santana Row, which will feature stores, restaurants and residential areas.
In November, Tourneau plans to open its Las Vegas store at the Forum Shops in Ceasars Palace. The 1,200-square-foot store will feature a new design concept, including more use of glass and steel to create a sleeker environment, according to Block. There will be colors on the walls, and, for the first time, a digital clock will be hanging in the store as opposed to an electric clock.
"We have adapted our design to create a more open, well-lit and inviting atmosphere," Block said.
The firm also is expanding its store at the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., by 600 square feet, essentially doubling its size, which is also slated for September.
In its four-story New York flagship, a few areas are being reconfigured. The mezzanine area, which now houses pre-owned watches, will be devoted entirely to Rolex and Patek Philippe. The downstairs floor, which holds less expensive watches, will be gaining space, since the Swatch brand will be leaving as part of its strategy to cut back on wholesale distribution. The brands Tissot, Hamilton and CK will be expanded into that area.
The Watch Gear concept, which bowed in 1999, is also an area of growth. Block admits it took some time to get this lower-priced concept off the ground, partly because the company was targeting a new demographic and also because its specialty is luxury marketing. In 2003, Tourneau plans to focus more on building this concept.
On the marketing front, Tourneau, through its own spending and with co-op advertising, now spends an estimated $25 million on a wide variety of media, such as print and direct mail, as well as in-store events such as jazz concerts at the flagship and in-store exhibitions by different brands. Block said the company is increasingly adding more events and marketing programs, including exclusive product introductions at the store.
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews