Suzie Brooks is the marketing director at Grenchen Time, the watch distributor that has recently taken on Swiss brand Rodania. She speaks with WatchPro about the group’s plans to revive the brand in the UK.
WatchPro: Grenchen Time has won the distribution of Rodania in the UK and Ireland. What was it about this brand that attracted you to it?
Suzie Brooks: We are a family-run, independent watch distributor that specialises in the distribution of mid-market watch brands. Experience has shown us that we work best with brands who share the same core values as us. Montebi Group, which owns Rodania, is also independent and is the distributor of Michel Herbelin in Belgium [Grenchen Time has been distributing Michel Herbelin for 20 years in the UK and Ireland]. When looking for a brand to complement Michel Herbelin and the other brands that we distribute, Rodania was the natural choice for us. We were aware that Montebi were looking to launch into the UK market with Rodania and we felt that the time was right both for the brand and for our company.
WP: The brand has previously been in the UK market but exited. What happened between then and now, and what will you be doing to revive its position in the UK?
SB: The UK market was a very different place when Rodania was last in it. Mr Aebi, the founder of Rodania, brought the brand to the UK at the end of World War II and it was present until the 1960s. In the 50 years that passed, the brand focused its operations in mainland Europe and in recent years has undergone a complete transformation. In the past five years Montebi has invested heavily in the collection and has launched Rodania Swiss, which draws on the watchmaking heritage of the brand. This comprises the Swiss Chic collection of automatic and quartz timepieces and the Mystery collection of ceramic timepieces. To establish Rodania in the UK our focus is primarily to build a quality distribution network of retailers and to roll out our unique web partner scheme which enables our retailers to work in partnership with us to sell our products online rather than operate in isolation. We will also be embracing the brand’s current international marketing campaign to “retake time”.
WP: Where in the market will Grenchen Time position Rodania, and what do you see as its USPs?
SB: In a market where we are currently seeing some brands performing restrictive practices, we strongly believe that there is a place for a new mid-market brand with mass appeal. Price points for the Rodania collection are from £60 to £200 and for the Rodania Swiss collection £200 to £1,500. We see the USP for Rodania as its innovative Mystery collection of ceramic timepieces. This collection just blew us away. The watches are refined, well made and at really competitive prices. We defy anyone not to fall in love with them.
WP: Rodania has said that the brand is evolving. How so?
SB: I think it is true to say that all good brands are evolving. However, Rodania has been evolving more than most in recent years. New product design, communication and image give the entire Rodania collection a distinct and authentic look. You can see the difference at a glance, but the difference is not just confined to the watches that are being created. With the new look comes a fresh, positive feel and a clear vision for the brand; namely to be the watch brand that is different because it inspires people to retake time.
WP: The marketing for the brand is all about this concept of "retaking time". Tell us more about this manifesto.
SB: Rodania is about watches and so, inevitably, it is about time. However, time has many meanings and can be interpreted in a variety of ways – time through the generations, racing against time in sport, time to do what I want with my life, and so on. When you ask people today about time, right here and right now, they say stress, speed, pressure and anxiety. We are driven by the cult of speed and constant race against the clock. Time has become our best excuse for giving up on our dreams. For putting off things that matter until tomorrow, for saying we don’t have time. When, in reality, it is because we don’t always take the time. We favour quantity over quality. Our race for performance makes us forget what’s important. As a result, a movement has sprung up that reaffirms the virtues of taking your time, Tempo Giusto. The term has given rise to an entire movement which advises the modern world to stop ploughing through life at breakneck speed, and instead start living at the right tempo. Inspired by the Tempo Giusto movement and its authentic time values, Rodania wants inspire people to retake time. The watch is always central to the action or situation portrayed, to remind you of the value of the moment; a Rodania watch is always by your side.
WP: How is Rodania building its UK presence? Do you have a target number of doors you would like to open with within a certain time?
SB: In launching Rodania in the UK and Ireland, we are taking the long view. Our approach is to build a quality distribution network with exclusive agencies in defined shopping areas. We have been delighted with the reaction of the trade to the collection and have opened over 20 accounts in our first three months. We aim to build on this and our goal for the next three years is to open 150 doors.
This interview was taken from the November issue of WatchPro. To read the magazine online, click here.