Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias told WatchPro in January this year that he expected all of the brand’s watches to be sold from under an AP roof within three to five years, meaning it would no longer supply multibrand showrooms.
That process is already advancing in the UK, with AP opening a directly-owned and operated boutique on Sloane Street in London this month. It will open an AP House on Bond Street later this year.
Audemars Piguet is the world’s largest privately-owned independent watchmaker with sales of €1.1 billion in 2018 from production of 40,000 watches Mr Bennahmias says. Half of the watches are already sold under an Audemars Piguet roof, he adds.
But AP will not directly own and operate each boutique. The company is open to joint ventures with retail groups and is proving that with the opening of a monobrand AP showroom in partnership with The Watches of Switzerland Group in Atlanta, USA, this month.
Industry insiders tell WatchPro that AP will be a joint venture partner for the boutique and have complete oversight over its books. The deal looks likely to pave the way for similar arrangements in the UK.
The Atlanta store, located within an upmarket shopping centre in Atlanta, follows a blueprint defined by Audemars Piguet, although at just 530 square feet (think 7m x 7m), it is not large.
But it manages to accommodate two distinct sales areas, featuring a custom chandelier and Vals stone flooring from the Swiss mountains. It has space, according to WoS, to offer the brand’s full range of men’s and women’s timepieces, including the brand new Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet.
“We are confident that the long and successful experience of The Watches of Switzerland Group in the Atlanta area will serve as an excellent platform for Audemars Piguet,” said Patrick Ottomani, CEO Audemars Piguet North America. “Atlanta is a place where our brand already has a significant established clientele and room for even further growth in the market.”