Swiss watchmakers Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille are snapping up stakes in their franchised shops، seeking to tighten their grip on the sales network as a growing number of top brands ditch wholesalers، according to "Reuters'.
Changes to distribution for luxury watches have lagged sectors such as groceries or fashion، with eye-watering price tags seen as a barrier to buying online and favoring a more traditional sales approach.
But trouble clearing excess inventory at multi-brand watch retailers، and the lure of better margins، is persuading some labels to cut their reliance on the third-party resellers that still account for around 75 percent of industry sales، according to analysts.
Family-owned Audemars Piguet، which has said it aimed to have only monobrand stores in three to five years’ time، is also investing in some of the around 30 franchises that already carry its name.
Out of a total 200 points of sale، it has 60 monobrand outlets but only 25 are fully-owned for now. The company is taking a majority stake in a Los Angeles franchise in an example of efforts to better control its image، Chief Executive Francois-Henry Bennahmias told Reuters.
“Between our stores in Rome and New York City a client could hear slightly different narratives، and we can’t afford that،” Bennahmias said at the SIHH trade fair in Geneva this week.