MIAMI — Having serviced multigenerational Southern families for fine jewelry and luxury watches since 1910, Mayors is now paying particularly close attention to Millennials.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based specialty chain with 16 stores in Florida and Georgia is in the midst of a two-phase reinvention that will affect every facet of its image, assortment and retail experience, including store redesign and sometimes relocation. The overhaul comes a year after its acquisition by the Watches of Switzerland Group. Parent company Aurum Holdings successfully completed a similar project for its Mappin & Webb stores in London, according to Watches of Switzerland chief executive officer Brian Duffy. He compares Mayors to Mappin & Webb five years ago and said both luxury markets share similar robustness, challenges and consumer demand.
“The U.K. is our blueprint, like we applied lessons from redesigning Mappin & Webb’s web site,” said Duffy, of Mayors’ new web site, which went live in October and will be fully transactional by the holidays. “The younger market hears about brands digitally — over 90 percent of luxury purchases start with online research — and then affirms it by coming into stores.”
Building upon SAP software analytics, digital upgrades translate to brick-and-mortar. Microsoft Surface screens allow salespeople to stay with clients during purchases and show them additional products. Social media outreach — Mayors’ Instagram account launched this year — and exclusive content such as podcasts will become more prolific in the next year, but salespeople remain its most valuable player. David Hurley, head of Watches of Switzerland Group for the U.S., said their wide breadth of knowledge across multiple brands, independent voice and ongoing training were most appealing in the buyout. Staff input is considered vital, especially concerning curated product for individual boutiques. The U.S. headquarters was expanded to give them more departments and tools.
“People want the assurance of expertise and advice, and if there’s a problem, where to take care of it,” said Duffy.
New York-based architecture firm MNA designed the prototype’s contemporary concept with lounges. Branded buildouts for wholesale partners commingle with pieces by more accessible designers. Rotating pop-ups are positioned at entrances to pique passersby with their constant freshness. Staff are told to keep front doors open during business hours for a less intimidating atmosphere.
“Service areas for watch repair and jewelry appraisal have the same luxurious look as if you’re buying an engagement ring. We want everything to be at the same level,” said Hurley.
Prior to the second phase’s retail renovation, which will begin in spring 2019, each store’s mall and location within the center was reevaluated. Frontage for window displays trumps square footage, hence the relocation of the long-term flagship in Atlanta’s Lenox Square to a smaller corner space with 120 feet of frontage. But the flagship in Miami’s Shops at Merrick Park will move into a larger space next to Gucci.
Despite its reputation for premier brands and pricey gemstones, including strong bridal and bespoke services, Mayors’ selection was equally scrutinized and remerchandised. Rare and one-of-a-kind pieces, which are significantly bolstered with the rebranding, were displayed during a VIP event at Aventura Mall in late October. Interest-free credit offers more big-ticket items to twentysomethings, who make up the majority of the retailer’s Rolex buyers, though several of its brands, like Messika jewelry, have always appealed to a broader age range.
A new ad campaign also debuts in the fall with total rebranding, from the logo to packaging. Duffy said they’re shooting for an elegant, romantic and young vibe.
There aren’t plans to expand outside Mayors’ current states, yet South Florida’s ongoing retail development raises a unique opportunity at home. Once store renovations conclude in a few years, the next round of capital’s use will be determined.
“We’ve spent a lot of money in the U.K., and our whole approach is investing in markets for high-quality growth,” said Duffy.