PARIS — Kicking off the rollout of its new retail concept in Europe, Zenith has started with its sales point in Le Bon Marché, and marked the occasion with a visit by chief executive officer Julien Tornare, who dropped in from Switzerland.
“It’s an environment that’s a lot more fresh, with a lot more light, and a clear line of communications,” he said, pointing to a wall that was divided into four sections. Each carried a different theme, corresponding to watch styles and families — the pilot section, indicated by a small globe of the world; the Defy, which represents the label’s technical prowess; the chronomaster, which has a close link to the manufacturing facilities and the El Primero movement, and the classics. The new retail concept, which mixes brushed metal, wood, and features a lot of navy blue and gray colors, was first introduced into a store in Tokyo’s Ginza district, followed by one in Singapore, and then Shanghai.
The space at the Paris department store also included a “history bar,” where clients can have a seat and order a drink. The bar man, who doesn’t just serve drinks, lifted a prop behind him — a photo of tennis coach Patrice Mouratoglou. The gesture prompted the images on a screen behind him to switch to Mouratoglou.
The high-end Swiss watchmaker, which belongs to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, also had a watch on display that carried an engraved message from the coach, known for his work with Serena Williams.
“Little details make big differences,” Tornare read, peering into the case. The executive added that the coach’s philosophy fits the label’s brand message, which is “Time to reach your star.” The label also recently named quarterback Aaron Rodgers as an ambassador, highlighting an emphasis on relaying messages rather than leaning on “red carpet” ambassadors who just pose with a product.
“I ask each ambassador to explain what experience they had that resonates with our message,” he said.
High-end watchmakers are under pressure to find ways to connect with younger consumers, who tend to favor experiences over the kinds of objects collected by past generations; the rise in popularity of connected watches, like the Apple watch, have further challenged the industry.
Asked about the mood among consumers, the executive flagged improving business.
“What we’re seeing is that people want to treat themselves,” he said.
“We’ve had a real pickup this year — Zenith has had a record six months,” said the executive.
Noting he set out this year with a target of slightly improving business compared to 2019, pre-pandemic levels, the label has outperformed expectations, with a 21 percent sales rise.
“I think the work we have put into place these past few years is paying off,” he said. “We’ve bounced back strongly this year.”
Internet sales are playing a role with this improvement, having risen to account for 5 percent of sales, he added, noting the brand launched e-commerce sites in Europe and the U.S., followed by Japan and a WeChat space in China.