When Giles Bushy stepped down from his position as managing director at Fossil Group UK after 14 years with the fashion watch powerhouse, the group looked within for a successor. In December Helen Wood, who was previously Fossil Group UK trading director, was promoted to managing director. She speaks to WatchPro about swapping the beauty industry for watches and the opportunities and challenges facing Fossil Group in the UK.
WATCHPRO: You joined Fossil Group UK two years ago as trading director. Where were you working before this?
Helen Wood: I started my professional career working for Estee Lauder companies, joining as an assistant counter manager for Clinique on Oxford Street, London. 15 years later, I found myself in the role of managing director, responsible for the M.A.C business within the UK and Ireland. The benefits of growing up on the shop floor, and then working to gain steady promotions over the years, has given me a valuable insight into all aspects of business, always acknowledging that the hardest work is done by the teams on the shop floor and in the field.
WP: Did you have an interest in watches before you joined the Fossil Group?
HW: Cosmetics, particularly M.A.C, is highly influenced by trends and fashion. Everyone loves a strong, well-styled accessory to highlight their personal trend statement so yes, there has always been interest in watches, jewellery and beautiful leather goods. With the wide portfolio of brands that Fossil Group designs, manufactures and distributes, what more could I ask for?
WP: When you first joined the Fossil Group what did your role involve?
HW: I joined Fossil Group as trading director, responsible for all wholesale and concession sales, marketing and PR, customer services and our private label business.
WP: And how do you feel about your new role of managing director?
HW: What an opportunity. It’s such an exciting time, not just for our licensed brands but also for our own lifestyle brands, Fossil and Skagen – both of which have such huge potential. This journey has only just begun.
WP: How has the company changed since you’ve joined and and what are your plans for future growth?
HW: During the last 2 years of my time here at Fossil, we have all achieved a lot. We’ve changed from a wholesale sell-in mentality to a new thinking of looking more closely at sell-through and understanding the tools we need to better support our retail partners. Our commitment is to strengthen our strategic relationships, to standardise our processes and to maintain our culture. We’ve also got a new endeavor, The Fossil Foundation, which will allow us to establish and expand our global footprint through giving and volunteerism in a positive, sustainable way. Collaborative efforts with several organisations have already begun.
WP: What would you consider the strengths of Fossil Group UK to be?
HW: Our people, all of whom live the Fossil values that are so critical to our success and day-to-day business. To be a part of the Fossil family is to be relentless, passionate, creative, resourceful, authentic and, most importantly, have a sense of humour.
WP: What are the main challenges the company faces going forward?
HW: In the words of our chief executive Kosta Kartosis we are being attacked by insurmountable opportunities. We need to remain focused on our big bets and ensure we do not put ourselves at risk of taking on too much and under resourcing our most important initiatives.
WP: How do you think the UK watch market is performing and where does Fossil sit within that?
HW: GfK data indicates that the UK watch market is performing strongly and certainly outpacing Europe. The growth is coming from segments in which we are key players; we’re gaining market share and driving to achieve the goals we have set ourselves.
WP: What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
HW: Being a part of a continuing evolution with a world-class company that has such strong people, product and potential.