Watch industry in Malaysia Sailing with equanimity
Watch brands are investing more in Malaysia.
What are some similarities between Blancpain and Panerai? Firstly, both have a strong historical link with diving watches. Blancpain with its Fifty Fathoms and Panerai with its Submersible diving watches. Secondly, both have recently opened their very first brand boutiques in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with hopes of creating a stronger presence in this Southeast Asian market. Malaysia is ranked number 29, slightly ahead of Oman, in the top 30 Swiss watch importing countries.
Now, the mention of “equanimity” here does not refer to the 300-feet superyacht that is associated with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad or 1MDB scandal. Rather, it is more about how both brands seem to be approached the Malaysian watch market rather calmly despite the country’s somewhat “choppy sea”.
In December 2018 for example, Swiss watch exports to Malaysia amounted to CHF6.4 million, representing a 12.7% decline over the corresponding period’s CHF7.3 million in 2017, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Was that a dismal performance? Well, comparing the export numbers in 2018 over the same month in 2016, the Malaysian watch market did pretty well as there was a growth of 28% (CHF6.4 million in December 2018 versus CHF5 million in December 2016).
What’s more, Swiss watch exports to Malaysia of CHF93.4 million in 2018 represented growth of 3.9% over the prior year. This performance isn’t too bad. Global Swiss watch exports in 2018 registered an overall growth of 6.3% in 2018.
In April 2018, Blancpain opened its mono-brand boutique in the Suria KLCC shopping mall that is a part of the world-famous Petronas Twin Towers. This is the first Blancpain boutique in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The boutique is located at the atrium and has a floor space covering 84 square metres or 904 square feet.
“The year 2018 was good for us [Blancpain] globally and regionally. The markets in my territories showed very positive results and we will continue with our business expansion,” disclosed Emmy Tellier, vice president, Blancpain Southeast Asia a few days before the Chinese New Year, at the end of January 2019.
Earlier in January 2019, on the 12th to be more exact, Panerai’s first mono-brand boutique was opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Panerai’s 1,574 square feet (146 square metres) boutique is the result of a partnership with Swiss Watch Gallery and is located at the Pavilion shopping mall in the Bukit Bintang area.
Swiss Watch Gallery, established in 2001, is owned by the Valiram Group, a Malaysian-based retailer of luxury, fashion and lifestyle products. There are eight Swiss Watch Gallery boutiques in addition to more than 30 watch and jewellery shops spread across Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
The Panerai boutique at Pavilion, designed by renowned Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, features elements representative of the Florentine brand such as walnut wood and brass, floor tiles with delicate veining and wavy grooves seen on its Mafalda chairs.
Giacomo Cinelli, managing director of Panerai Southeast Asia and Oceania says that the first Malaysian boutique further strengthens the brand’s Southeast Asian presence. The addition in Malaysia brings the total number of Panerai boutiques to 81 worldwide and this includes four that are in Southeast Asia.
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