Jean-Frederic Dufour on Zenith and its Legacy
In an exclusive chat with Jean-Frederic Dufour, President and CEO, Zenith, Time 'n Style finds out what the brand has in store for India and otherwise
From the launches in Baselworld 2012, which one is your favourite?
My favourite is the El Primero because with the El Primero, you have an iconic product from the Swiss watch industry. I like the meaning behind this watch; it means creativity, it was the first self-winding chronograph, it means design because it has a strong identity, and it means quality because it comes with the best chronograph calibre ever produced by the Swiss watch industry.
The brand is generally associated with classic timepieces. This year, you had some sporty watches. How did that happen?
We have no problem in speaking about the aficionados of the brand. What we need to enlarge and expand is our customer base. What we try to do now is to have a wider offer. The key mantra for my next year is to attract more people, and that every month we sell out more pieces than before.
How has the Indian market been for the brand?
In India, we are still not that strong. We have a good distribution and good partner, but it's a market where you have to invest in marketing to develop. And for a brand like Zenith, it's a bit difficult. We are present worldwide, but we have to focus market by market. My priority was South America, Asia and China. We have 48 points of sale in China vis a vis eight points of sale in India. So it's difficult to say that I'll invest millions of dollars in marketing in a country where there are only eight points of sale currently.
What are the challenges of the Indian market?
The retail [structure] is not well organised. In China, if you ask people what is their favourite activity, they'll say, shopping. That's not the case in India. When you set up a shop in India, it needs to be a destination where people go out to shop. The way the Indian society is organised, if you want to buy something, you call the guy who comes to your house and brings the watch to your house. It's a tough market to break and is one of the toughest markets in the world. But India has big potential.
Are you following any specific strategies in India?
We have the right partners. However I'm not sure whether 2012 will be the year of expansion in India. For me, India is a tough market and I will invest when I feel that I have the right partner locally and when we are confident. I don't want to get into the market and come back.
How would you define Zenith timepieces?
What we produce are conservative products with a little bit of twist. We are not a fashion brand. What's important for me is that the watch industry is polarising; so either there's a fashion brand or a manufacture brand. There are no in-betweens. Either you have a strong legacy or you can't survive as a manufacture. And then you have the independents. You have many new brands where you have a watch by the names of the owner. That's a one-man show.
What's the USP of Zenith?
Zenith produces the best mechanical watches and chronographs within Euros 3,000-8,000. And as you say, life is in the movement!
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