A little over six months into his role as CEO of Rotary Watches Ltd, Peter McKenna speaks exclusively to WatchPro about the direction he’s taking his brands, why the juice of Baselworld isn’t worth the squeeze anymore, and his emphasis on after sales service.
WatchPro: How have you found the first few months of your new role?
Peter McKenna: Exciting and interesting to say the least. My first task was to get out and listen to our customers, from the largest multiple to the one-store independent. The extraordinary thing was that they were all telling me the same things about Rotary, expressing some frustrations but most of all demonstrating the affection the trade and the public has for the brand.
WP: What changes have you implemented since becoming CEO?
PM: We have focused on what our customers were telling us.
We are re-introducing (from this month) our retail training and visual merchandising teams to support the multiples.
We have been working hard on our product segmentation to protect the independent sector’s margins (they have enough pressures to worry about).
We are focusing all new product in the price range sweet spots that our customers asked for, but we have a bunch of fantastic surprises up our sleeves on the product front for the Christmas season, as well as testing new display concepts with the help of our retailers.
We are recruiting to rebuild our sales team in the UK, plus we are stepping up our UK marketing spend in the Christmas season.
We have also tightened up our supply chain to help us control quality, and most of all we’ve been working very hard to fix the issues we have with after sales service.
We are also moving! We will have a fresh start for our sales and marketing teams in new offices in Clerkenwell, getting back to the roots of the brand – we used to be based just around the corner!
WP: What position do the individual brands find themselves in at the moment?
PM: We are about to launch our Rotary AW18 collection to the trade immediately after Basel; this extends the family concepts and gives the retailer a great base to choose from.
For Dreyfuss & Co, we are preparing a mini relaunch for the summer, with a tightened up and refreshed range.
WP: How confident are you that this will be a good year for the brands (in terms of sales), and why?
PM: We are very confident due to the feedback we’ve had from the trade; we just have to keep delivering on our promises.
WP: How has your business model changed (if at all) to reflect the changes in consumer habits, both in terms of what they buy and, crucially, how they buy it?
PM: The key shift that impacts upon us all is online shopping – we need to help our store-based retailers retain some level of exclusivity whilst supporting our online retailers with product that enables them to compete. We are leveraging our ‘family ties’ within the CWJ group to be nimble in this area, plus the simplified supply chain helps us with stock management as retailers try to manage down their stock holdings.
WP: What made you decide to withdraw from the Baselworld exhibition this year?
PM: Very simple – cost vs benefit – the vast bulk of our Basel orders were from UK retailers – consolidation of the key UK market is our goal, and we can better service our customer on a one-to-one basis in the UK.
WP: How important is after-sales service to Dreyfuss Group brands?
PM: Extremely – it’s a key part of our proposition to the trade. We have had some issues in the past year, however we are stepping up our game.
We have introduced an online portal that enables trade customers to book service jobs in online, and to approve work at the click of a button – no more estimates in the post if you are using that service!
We have also recently re-profiled the team in the Westcliff Service Centre, investing in staff to speed up call answering and repair speed to the levels that made Rotary famous for its SAV.
We are continually listening to the feedback we get from our field team to make sure we are continually moving forward.
WP: What procedures are in place at the company to ensure the highest standards of service?
PM: We identified the choke points from an operational and customer perspective (these now form the basis for our KPIs). I’ve also established internal working groups, and have direct lines of communication now to the service teams in the majors, while giving our field team a new set of ‘tools’ to escalate and resolve any problems in the field.