Minute Azimut, a British watch brand founded by Parisian entrepreneur Winnie Poon after a crowd funding campaign last year, has hired its second employee.
Nicholas Underwood joined in December as sales manager, and will raise the profile of the brand using pop up stores that aim to increase immediate sales as well as raise interest with prospective retail partners.
During a visit to WatchPro this week, Ms Poon and Mr Underwood said that Minute Azimut is in the final stage of agreeing its first retail partners in the UK, and said it would be announcing 10 names before the end of March.
“We can’t give the names yet, but the first wave will predominately be in the jeweller market; some are big, some are smaller,” Mr Underwood said.
Mr Underwood brings considerable experience in developing retail channels for watch brands, having previously worked in the industry since 2008, first on the retailer side as a concession manager for Aurum Holdings, then The Watch Gallery in Selfridges and later for Omega.
More recently he has switched into the distribution side of the industry with spells as a national account manager for Jorg Gray then TW Steel. His last position before joining Minute Azimut was as an account manager for Fossil Group.
Minute Azimut ran its biggest pop up store to date in December in a side street unit opposite Selfridges in London, which Mr Poon described as a success for sales and raising the brand awareness.
The next pop-up will be in February in the brand’s spiritual home of Clerkenwell, a fashionable East end enclave of London.
Along with selling watches, the company hopes that retailers will visit the pop-ups to see the quality of the collection and the way it is presented in terms of point of sale and packaging.
The signature Bisham watch, named after a woodland in Berkshire, has a quartz Ronda movement. It sells for £180 with a Nato strap, and up to £350 with an alligator leather strap. A range of straps in different materials and colours can be sold separately, and can be changed without the use of specialist tools.
For every watch that is sold, a percentage of the price is donated to The Woodland Trust, a charity that protects British woods and forests.
For such a young brand, Minute Azimut has a mature approach to building a retail network, recognising that it is the job of the brand to drive sales for retailers. “It is sell-through that matters,” says Ms Poon.
“We will grow the network carefully and give each retailer geographic space as we want to protect the retailers’ business. We want to give them sustained, consistent business, but we will also develop launch activity along with retailers that creates a buzz for them at specific times,” Ms Poon adds.