LVMH hints it could work with stateless ecommerce firms like Chronext

Jean-Claude Biver and Phillip Mann appear in a panel discussion on SRF ECO Talk.

Some dismiss Chronext as a grey market dealer, others a global platform for trading end of season watches. Love it or hate it, there is no doubt that consumers are buying from the disruptive company in increasing numbers.

The Germany-based Chronext has just closed a round of funding that raised $34 million, and its growth can no longer be ignored by the biggest Swiss watchmakers or the authorised dealers that are in direct competition with the ecommerce site that undercuts them on price.

In an interview with Swiss broadcaster SRF on its ECO Talk program, CEO of TAG Heuer and president of LVMH Watch Division Jean-Claude Biver suggests that he might even work with Chronext in the future.

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“I’m not critical, I understand what he does — luckily. We also speak to each other but we are not partners at the moment, but that can come. And we can still invest with him. We aren’t blind, we aren’t critical to new ideas, on the contrary, they need to be analysed,” Mr Biver says (the interview in German is translated into English by Chronext).

In a panel discussion on the program, Philipp Mann, chief executive of Chronext, says he is investing heavily in technology that will improve the experience for customers, and make it more attractive for watch brands to work directly with the business, and for more bricks and mortar retailers to engage.

Asked what he intends to do with the $34 million raised in the most recent funding round, Mr Mann replies: “The money helps us make the brand more known, but above all, to invest in new technology. We are working with more manufacturers now. I can’t say who it is yet, but we are building infrastructure to connect all the suppliers, and to to link the stationary supplier network to the online world.”

Mr Biver has stated consistently in recent years that he wants LVMH brands to be sold in the way that customers want to buy them, and remains flexible to mixing traditional retail channels with new innovators.

“I think it’s right to have a [monobrand] shop where you can feel all the brand’s emotions. But one should not forget the multi-brand stores. Some customers don’t want to go to a store where you only see one brand. They may want choices, they may want to see IWC, Omega or Zenith. And then the customer can choose … both can exist together. In fact, even all three can exist together and the third is online: online, offline single brand and offline multi-brand. In ten years, all three will exist together,” Mr Biver says.

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