Belgian watchmaker Manfred+Cracco is being introduced to the UK by Essex-based Grenchen Time, which also distributes straps and watches from Morellato and Michel Herbelin.
The watch brand is the perfect combination of style, Swiss-made heritage and quality, explains Grenchen Time director Suzie Brooks, as she explains in conversation with WatchPro.
WatchPro: What attracted you to Manfred+Cracco in the first place?
Suzie Brooks: The main attraction of Manfred+Cracco for us was undoubtedly the high specification of the product at a competitive price. The watches are Swiss made with sapphire crystals and have a 10 year battery life. We could easily see a gap in the market for a brand aimed at young people but with Swiss made quality.
WP: What makes you think that watch retailers and consumers will be equally enthusiastic about Manfred+Cracco?
SB: Retailers and consumers will see a quality product that will provide hassle-free enjoyment for many years. The watches are offered with interchangeable straps, which will allow consumers to vary their look without having to buy a new watch. The brand is new and fresh but, unlike so many watch brands aimed at young people, is backed up by a watch company with 85 years of knowledge and expertise to build upon.
WP: How are your other brands performing in the UK?
SB: Business is definitely challenging at the moment. However, we are showing encouraging signs of growth in certain areas. Most notably, as UK distributor of Morellato watch straps, our retail distribution is growing nicely and we are known for our mid to high quality straps and bespoke strap service. Our longest established brand, Michel Herbelin, remains the backbone of our business. The brand is launching its first connected watches this summer so we are excited about bringing this range to the UK market.
WP: To what extent is Grenchen Time on the lookout for other brands to add to its portfolio?
SB: Whilst we are not actively looking for new brands, we will always consider new opportunities. If we can see that a brand has a USP and will appeal to our customer base of mid to up-market jewellers then we are open to adding it to our portfolio.
WP: What changes (if any) have you noticed in the UK watch industry over the last couple of years?
SB: The biggest change seems to be the way in which the high profile brands are trying to tie up the distribution and availability of their watches. Fortunately there are a number of key retailers who are prepared to pioneer new brands. The increase of online purchasing has led to closer working relationships with our stockists in order to maintain the integrity of our brands.
WP: How well equipped is Grenchen Time to deal with these changes?
SB: As an independent, family owned and run distributor we have close relationships with our stockists, which in some cases go back over 25 years. Working closely with our stockists to build our brands is second nature to us.