Since a couple of years there is a trend of watch brands opening their own boutiques or flag ship stores. This way, the watch brand has more control with respect to the quality of the sales staff, has direct contact with its customers and – perhaps – decreases the number of watches disappearing into the grey market. Also, the brand is able to create the perfect atmosphere for its clients that fits the brand in the best way.
Will retailers disappear? I don’t think so, at least the big chains (think Wempe, Tourneau etc) will survive as well as shops that really specialize in certain (niche) brands (think Chronopassion, Marcus etc). Small individual stores might get into trouble in the end, due to brands reducing the number of points of sales and thus the retailer not carrying brands any more that will result in a solid turn-over every year. And then there is e-commerce or better yet, the lack of having a strategy or clear vision regarding e-commerce.
Richard Mille Boutique
In any case, the fact that brands are taking the initiative to open their own boutiques are an interest topic for discussion. Not only big brands from the Richemont and Swatch Group are taking this route, we also see (smaller) high-end brands opening boutiques.
One of these high-end brands opening a new boutique is Richard Mille. We did a factory visit to Richard Mille last year (check our report here) and we were very impressed by this high-tech watch manufacturer. Richard Mille decided to open a boutique in one of London’s finest areas for shopping, hotels and art galleries. This new boutique on Mount Street in Mayfair, is an addition to an already impressive list of Richard Mille boutiques in prime shopping and travel destinations.
This new Richard Mille boutique will help ensure a tailor made approach to their customers, by having a dedicated seating area and a VIP lounge (aren’t all Richard Mille customers VIPs to be honest?). The interior is beautifully finished with exotic woods, leather and glass to create the perfect environment and surrounding for that special purchase or showing the Richard Mille collection to potential customers.
All this is located in a 80 square meter two-floor building where the Richard Mille collection (consisting of sports watches, a newly launched lady collection and of course its share of limited and unique editions) is being presented to its visitors.
‘’Opening the Boutique in London gives prominence to the brand’s global presence and we are delighted to be part of this distinguished and vibrant area of London.’’ – Says Richard Mille Europe Middle East and Africa CEO, Peter Harrison. ‘’The London market is very important for Richard Mille for local sales but also within the context of a truly global market. Our London Boutique will offer an additional opportunity to share experiences with the brand in an environment of ultimate luxury where product knowledge and customer service are at the optimum”.
Opening times of the Richard Mille boutique on 90 Mount Street, Mayfair, London are from Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information can be found on www.richardmille.com.