Geneva Watch Group specialises in the design, manufacturing and distribution of watches, often under global fashion licences. Kenneth Cole is one of their licenses, and they’ve just partnered with UK distributor TLKE. Geneva Watch Group’s CEO Christian Frommherz tells WatchPro more.
WatchPro: How long has Geneva Watch Group had the Kenneth Cole licence?
Christian Frommherz: I’m very pleased to say we have held the Licence since 1997 and recently signed an extension well into the future.
WP: How complicated is it to make a success of a watch licence? Are there a lot of strict brand guidelines in place that make the design job difficult?
CF: You would like to think that when you have a strong licence that success can easily follow. Many fashion brands really want to control how the collections look and, on one side, I understand and agree that the overall look of the brand needs to be consistent. But many times it has been seen where the collections finish up as not very commercial. With Kenneth Cole we have a long-standing relationship and a very open relationship and they allow us a lot of freedom on a design level. We know their DNA very well and also we know what is needed to create strong watch collections.
WP: How did your relationship with TLKE come about?
CF: The relationship started because we needed a partner for the UK who could recognise the opportunity that the Kenneth Cole brand offers. After doing research we were impressed by the job being done by Teresa and her team at TLKE with her current portfolio, which is not at all overloaded. TLKE is not a subsidiary with massive resources behind them, but have great relationships with the trade and care passionately about what they do. And there was a connection as Tony Harris, our Head of International, first met Teresa in a previous life 19 years ago, when she was a buyer at House of Fraser and he was responsible for Swatch brand. And Teresa and we are perfectly aligned with how we want to work together as true partners for the long term.
WP: How significant is the UK market to you?
CF: The UK is one of the top 10 watch markets in the world and also has a very strong affinity to US brands. And what happens in the UK can also ripple across into other markets in a positive way.
WP: Do you feel that Kenneth Cole has scope to grow significantly as a watch brand in the UK?
CF: I totally believe we can grow a strong business with Kenneth Cole here in the UK, with the right partner in place. From other key markets around the world we know the collections we have now created combine very well design, quality and, what is very important in a challenging retail world, extremely accessible prices. An example would be our Gents Skeleton Automatic collection starting from £125 and the new SS19 campaign features a watch at this price.
WP: What will you consider a successful first 12 months in partnership with TLKE?
CF: A successful 12 months would be to establish ourselves through TLKE with a number of key accounts, generating strong sell-through and making sure all collections in retail – online and offline – are constantly being updated. We live in a world now where the consumer expects things to change and to be offered new experiences on a regular basis. This is the main reason why we change a lot of our collection on a regular basis and keep feeding in newness.