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GUCCI MELDS BRANDS, CREATES WATCH UNIT

Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — In an effort to streamline operations, take advantage of company synergies and improve service globally, Gucci Group has created a new multibrand organization to manage its luxury watch business.
Gucci Group Watches is based in Neuchatel, Switzerland and includes the Gucci, Boucheron, Yves Saint Laurent and Bedat & Co. divisions.
“Gucci Group Watches brings together and leverages existing know-how of the markets across the group while ensuring that the strategies developed reflect the unique needs and identity of each brand,” said Massimo Macchi, group vice president of watches and jewelry. “We have a successful and profitable watch business, which we continue to grow.”
A spokesman said that each brand will retain control over image and positioning, but Gucci Group Watches will be responsible for product development, logistics, manufacturing, sales and distribution. “This move is in line with the group’s strategies and will cut costs and improve customer service,” said the spokesman. Gucci will assign dedicated brand managers within the new unit to promote each brand, develop sales strategies and coordinate marketing activities.
Gucci Group is showcasing a new Boucheron watch this week at the Basel fine jewelry and watch fair and will launch an Yves Saint Laurent timepiece in Paris this summer. Before the end of the year, the group plans to open and operate Boucheron stores in such key cities as New York, Tokyo, London, Paris, Milan and San Francisco. Gucci is also focused on the expansion of Bedat in Italy, France and Japan.
The group does not break out sales for each brand’s watch division, with the exception of Gucci. Last year, Gucci watches reported sales of $211.7 million while the entire division had sales of $1.51 billion. In the fourth quarter last year, timepiece distribution sales fell 5.6 percent. The firm attributed the drop to a reduction of inventories in November and December since Sept. 11. Sales rebounded in January, with a 14.3 percent increase.

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