Retail Interview with Christophe Chaix of DFS Group
WorldTempus talks to the Senior Vice President, Global Merchandising – Watches, Jewellery, Accessories & Sunglasses at the world’s leading luxury travel retailer about the travel retailer sector and this year’s buying trends.
WorldTempus : The image of DFS is the one of the biggest watch & jewellery retailer in Asia, and probably in the world, does that match the reality?
Christophe Chaix: DFS is the world’s leading luxury travel retailer and we currently partner with over 700 brands to offer our customers products and services across four pillars of luxury: Watches & Jewellery, Wine & Spirits, Beauty & Fragrances and Fashion & Accessories. Watches and Jjewellery are present in our 15 T Gallerias and over 12 major airports with 140 brands and over 200 boutiques, making DFS amongst the leaders in this segment.
How do you split the families of brands in your watch & jewellery division?
We curate our watches and jewellery for our customers in key segments of the watch and jewellery world. We have expert teams that bring together key brands in each of the five different categories to ensure we offer the customer the best curated assortment for each: Fashion watches; fine watches; luxury watches; watchmakers; luxury jewellery.
What is the impact of the new Chinese habits of consumption on footfall in your biggest stores, the T Gallerias?
Despite a recent slowdown in the economy and changes in Chinese laws, the Chinese consumer is a watch and jewellery connoisseur. Additionally, there continues to be increased spending among outbound Chinese travellers – that is, Chinese travellers are shopping when they travel. As long as we continue to offer the best brand line up and assortment, customer experience, highest levels of service, impeccable store designs and environments, DFS will continue to perform because we cater primarily to travellers.
Will this influence the success of Masters of Time, the watch fair you are organising in Macao in December?
The strength of DFS’s relationship with the world’s most desired brands, especially under the watches and jewellery pillar, is clearly demonstrated at our annual Masters of Time event, the world’s largest retail exhibition of fine watches & jewellery.
The collection that we present is the result of over a year of visits to the workshops of our brand partners in Europe, where we have exclusive access to the best and latest releases in the world of haute horlogerie.
This year’s event, which will be held on December 6 in Macau, marks our sixth annual run of the highly acclaimed collection showcase. The line-up will include over 400 fine watches – and for the first time jewellery – from 40 of the world’s most prestigious brands.
Can you usually predict what kind of customer will go for which watch?
Our highly skilled and trained sales associates have built long lasting relationships with many of our customers over the years. We engage with all our customers to discover and offer the best choice and selection according to their desires; whether it is a timepiece for a special occasion, a sporting expedition, or an introduction to a new brand. DFS prides itself on these relationships we build and being able to represent such amazing array of the top brands in the world. When we select a masterpiece for the Masters of Time, we usually know in advance the customers that will be interested in the piece.
What watches do you think will be big sellers this year and why?
We continue to see a growth in the ladies segment and offering. Many brands now offer a much wider catalogue of feminine timepieces which house complications, fabulous jewellery setting, or animations. This segment has evolved quite rapidly over the past five years. Our team loves Christophe Claret’s Margot, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Poetic Complications and knows our customers will as well.
What’s trendy in watch buying at the moment and why?
Our watch team has seen many brands return to more classical designs and shapes over the past two years. Whether it is the diameter of the watch case or clean dials representing time only. Moon phases continue to be a very popular complication as well, especially with our Chinese clients. That said, some brands are experimenting with new case materials (Hublot), unique painted enamel dials (Jaquet Droz), or over the top complications which appeal to a new younger generation of watch collectors (Roger Dubuis).
What can visitors expect from this 6th edition of Masters of Time?
For many of the reasons described above, Masters of Time is truly a unique experience and offering to our existing customers, and anyone interested in watches. Each year we will continue to push the bar and provide an unrivalled brand offering and assortment curated with extreme attention to detail. In particular, this year the majority of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève winners will be presented to our collectors.
DFS has also enlisted industry experts to speak at the event, including Jean-Claude Biver, Benjamin Clymer and Vivienne Becker to not only comment on the collection but to offer their insights about the key underlying trends highlighting this year’s theme pioneering innovation.
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