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Hermès - Interview with Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Hermès Interview with Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

" We are seeing sales in the men's segment take off "

Hermès Horloger has just announced that its first-quarter sales are double those of last year; how do you explain this outperformance?
Sales of Hermès watches did indeed rise by 96% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 (and by 84% compared to 2019), even though we were not yet in the midst of the pandemic. Growth actually resumed last summer and accelerated from the fall onwards. This allowed us to end the year with annual sales slightly above those of 2019.
Several factors explain this favorable trend. Like many luxury goods stakeholders, we are benefiting from "relocated" local spending: customers are travelling less and spending more in their own countries, both in boutiques and via e-commerce, which is climbing steeply for Hermès watches. Furthermore, the efforts we have been making for several years are bearing fruit: products are proving successful, as in the case of the new H08 collection, whose launch is very promising (we have to triple our planned production); as well as the revamped Nantucket, whose success it exceeding our forecasts; the network has been expanded, the sales staff is well trained, and deliveries are more reliable. All these are sustainable factors.

Interview with Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Nantucket © Hermès

What is your assessment of your participation in Watches & Wonders?
This digital show met our expectations: to enjoy live exchanges with our partners, journalists and influencers around the world, as well as physical encounters with the Swiss partners in Geneva’s Bâtiment des Forces Motrices*.
The scenography around the H08 and “The texture of time” theme was impactful and mingled architecture and digital technology. The artistic interpretation was very well received, and the launch of the H08 was a success both in the media and commercially.
We were also able to meet with end customers, either in person or remotely using the same digital tools, to present our collections and exceptional pieces. It was very pleasant, even if we would have preferred to meet everyone "for real".

What do you expect from the 2022 edition?
A physical show above all, shared by the biggest players in the watch industry at Palexpo. The 2021 experience of Watches & Wonders digital was a good “default” organizational option: a digital show is better than none at all, but without offering the richness of a physical counterpart. More generally, the year 2020 saw an acceleration in trends and experiences as well as the use of new tools that are here to stay, yet nothing can replace an annual opportunity for real-life encounters.

What aspects of your new H08 collection do you think appeal most to your customers?
It's still a little early to draw any conclusions, but its dazzling success is due to a combination of elements: its style, its practical and sporty functionality, in a new universe for Hermès supported by a striking campaign and with a quality/price ratio that is considered appealing. Hermès is entering the highly competitive sector of men's watches priced between 4,000 and 10,000 euros. The two-tone DLC titanium version was particularly popular.

Interview with Laurent Dordet, CEO Hermès Horloger

Hermès H08 © Hermès

The Hermès brand is a dream for generations all over the world,;what more would you like for your watches?
Naturally, I would like customers to dream about Hermès watches in the same way that they have dreamed of bags and silk scarves for decades! With our image of quality and authenticity, we can bring something more to this industry, while remaining enduringly humble and reliable. I will be happy to hear customers talk about them as high-quality watches, with a design that stands out, creative and brimming with spontaneity.

Are you seeing a shift in the distribution of watch purchases between women and men?
We have seen a sharp increase in men's sales over the past two years, although this segment began to develop about ten years ago. All this has been made possible by the integration of watchmaking skills, particularly our in-house movements, which began 15 years ago. These efforts have already been rewarded four times by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Prix. Let's see if the H08 will allow us to break through in terms of volumes…

What one-of-a-kind model are you working on for Only Watch 2021?
We have developed a pair of unique H08 timepieces: one in titanium with orange LumiNova, the other with an orange Hermès strap. Only Watch has also chosen this color for its communication this year, so it's a perfect fit!

*View the video of his interview / visit the Watches & Wonders booth here


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