Calvin Klein Watches and Jewellery, part of the Swatch group of brands, enjoyed double-digit growth in the UK market last year. TOM DAVIS sat down with brand president, Laura Burdese, to learn about the brand’s UK footprint and its future expectations
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Give us a bit of background about the brand
Calvin Klein Watches and Jewellery is a global brand and we have a very global approach – we are now present in over 80 countries. The brand was the first Swiss-made fashion brand to start in the market and we were born in effect in 1997, so it was quite a long time ago. Our main unique selling point and our main asset is really our unique positioning in the market.
We are the only brand to offer high-quality Swiss-made watches at an affordable price. This is a very unique position, if you think about all the other fashion brands in the market, they are not Swiss-made, or if they are Swiss-made then they have a much higher average price compared with us. Our unique positioning is really that we are, and we want to be, the best-in-class to offer beautifully designed pieces with a very strong and recognisable Calvin Klein aesthetic. This is combined with an outstanding quality – the quality of the Swatch Group.
What are the inspirations behind the design of Calvin Klein watches?
The inspiration comes from the DNA of the Calvin Klein brand, so basically it’s all about being very pure, sleek and slimline. We try to stick very strongly to the Calvin Klein aesthetics because that’s one of the main assets that we have – the brand Calvin Klein is super strong and very recognisable. It’s one of the leading design brands in the world and is aesthetically very strong. When we develop new collections every year we always try to interpret the main DNA of the brand, again it’s all about dual lines, sleek lines, simple and minimal designs. Especially when it comes to 2016, we have been inspired by what we call neo-minimalism which is going back a little bit to the Nineties. It’s really going back to the core of the brand in the Nineties when the brand explored the style, it’s all about going back and re-interpreting our roots.
Who are the products marketed towards?
In the UK it is mainly women – it’s probably around 60% women and 40% men. In terms of age, our target consumer is around between 25 and 45 years old and they are very much youthful people. It is a global customer who travels a lot around the world and is very sensitive to design and keen on fashion. All around the world, it is a bit more balanced between men and women. Overall worldwide I would say we are 50-50, unlike the UK where we are a bit more towards women which has always historically been like that.
What are the average price points of the watches?
The core price positioning of our watches is around £210 to £230, which is where we sell around 80% of our collection.
How has the brand performed over the last 12 months?
We have experienced double-digit growth, and this growth came from two main drivers. The first was the increased sell-out because overall the brand is performing very well and it looks like UK customers love the brand and they are beginning to purchase it more and more. The second was a growth in terms of distribution, we opened around 20 new doors in the past 12 months. There is also a third channel which is very important and that is e-commerce. We have just launched, in 2015, our European and global e-commerce platform under the Calvin Klein website. This is performing very well and the UK is actually the first country in Europe in terms of sell-out on our e-commerce platform.
Tell us about the brand’s footprint in the UK
The UK is one of our fastest growing markets in Europe. It’s not so big yet, but it’s getting bigger and bigger and we are extremely satisfied with the results in the UK. We have a very qualitative selection distribution in the UK, and we currently have around 80 to 100 doors. Most of these are in the main cities and in traditional jewellery and watch shops, which makes our distribution very qualitative. We also have some branded shop-in-shop kiosks in some department stores in shopping centres. We want want to continue to grow in this qualitative way because we want to be different from all the other fashion brands, strengthening our Swiss-made heart.
How does this compare to your footprint in Europe and around the world?
We have the same strategy in Europe and overall around the world, so our qualitative Swiss-made heart is our main asset. Our distribution isn’t massive anywhere in the world, but again it’s very qualitative and we always try to be where the other Swiss-made watch brands are, as opposed to the mass market brands.
What are your plans for the UK market?
In the UK this year I think we will get to around 100 doors, countries such as Italy or Germany are a bit different and their distributions are a bit wider. Despite this, the strategy is actually the same and we try to have a global approach that is consistent around the world, employing the same strategy across the globe.
Are you in, or would you consider entering, the wearable tech market?
Actually no, not at the moment. The thing is that we are not a tech company or an consumer electronics company. Our main know-how is about how to create qualitative and beautiful jewellery and watches, which are purchased by our customers for their looks and because of the Calvin Klein brand. It’s more a question of being accessories, and that’s not where the wearable tech market is at the moment. We really believe that we want to stick to our position of selling our customers beautiful accessories and beautiful jewellery that they can buy for very accessible prices. This price-point allows the consumers to wear various pieces to change their outfit, I think that’s a totally different approach.
Who do you consider to be your main competitors?
It’s hard to say honestly because as I said before, with our positioning we’re very unique in the market. No other Swiss-made brand have a fashion-name brand or the other way round, there are no fashion brands at our price-point with a Swiss-made movement. Actually if you consider only our positioning then we are very unique, but, honestly, from a consumer point of view I think our two main competitors are Armani and Michael Kors for the time being.
Where do you see Calvin Klein watches and jewellery in five years’ time?
What I always say to all my team here in Switzerland and worldwide is that our mission is ‘to become the most desirable lifestyle brand in 2020’. That is really an overall goal of the whole Calvin Klein brand and of course also for us being part of such an amazing brand with such a big brand awareness everywhere in the world. That is our mission and we really want to become the most desirable, coolest and strongest lifestyle brand around the world.