A little over six months into his role as CEO of Rotary Watches Ltd, Peter McKenna speaks exclusively to WatchPro about the direction he’s taking his brands, why the juice of Baselworld isn’t worth the squeeze anymore, and his emphasis on after sales service.
Peter McKenna: Exciting and interesting to say the least. My first task was to get out and listen to our customers, from the largest multiple to the one-store independent. The extraordinary thing was that they were all telling me the same things about Rotary, expressing some frustrations but most of all demonstrating the affection the trade and the public has for the brand.
We are re-introducing (from this month) our retail training and visual merchandising teams to support the multiples.
We have been working hard on our product segmentation to protect the independent sector’s margins (they have enough pressures to worry about).
We are focusing all new product in the price range sweet spots that our customers asked for, but we have a bunch of fantastic surprises up our sleeves on the product front for the Christmas season, as well as testing new display concepts with the help of our retailers.
We are recruiting to rebuild our sales team in the UK, plus we are stepping up our UK marketing spend in the Christmas season.
We have also tightened up our supply chain to help us control quality, and most of all we’ve been working very hard to fix the issues we have with after sales service.
We are also moving! We will have a fresh start for our sales and marketing teams in new offices in Clerkenwell, getting back to the roots of the brand – we used to be based just around the corner!
WP: What position do the individual brands find themselves in at the moment?
PM: We are about to launch our Rotary AW18 collection to the trade immediately after Basel; this extends the family concepts and gives the retailer a great base to choose from.
For Dreyfuss & Co, we are preparing a mini relaunch for the summer, with a tightened up and refreshed range.
WP: How confident are you that this will be a good year for the brands (in terms of sales), and why?
PM: We are very confident due to the feedback we’ve had from the trade; we just have to keep delivering on our promises.
WP: How has your business model changed (if at all) to reflect the changes in consumer habits, both in terms of what they buy and, crucially, how they buy it?
PM: The key shift that impacts upon us all is online shopping – we need to help our store-based retailers retain some level of exclusivity whilst supporting our online retailers with product that enables them to compete. We are leveraging our ‘family ties’ within the CWJ group to be nimble in this area, plus the simplified supply chain helps us with stock management as retailers try to manage down their stock holdings.