Nicola Andreatta : Vice President and General Manager, Tiffany & Co Swiss Watches
Firstly, I had to immerse myself in Tiffany’s DNA, and I spent the first weeks in the archives in order to understand who we were and what we had done since the first Tiffany watches in 1868. It seemed essential to me that creating sustainable success depended on respecting one’s roots. Too many brands lose their identity by wanting to chase after new clients, and one doesn’t recover from that. Yet I discovered an incredibly rich watchmaking heritage, distinguished by patents and prizes won in big international competitions*. Subsequently, we were busy with design research and adaptation, so that our first CT60 collection was reminiscent of our history and reflected this lost heritage. The brand’s past craftsmanship, the attention devoted to tiny details… We were determined to breathe new life into the watchmaking credibility that Tiffany & Co enjoyed in the past when it had a Manufacture in Geneva. In parallel, we hired specialists at every level, particularly for our operational base in Switzerland, and created a network of ultra-competent suppliers for all components, while starting to train our teams.
Could we talk about Tiffany before and after 2015 ?
Watchmaking is a strategic project for Tiffany & Co, which has invested enormous amounts in it and for the long term, whether in terms of marketing, production, boutiques and human resources. It’s not because you sell jewelry in your boutiques that you can improvise watch sales there. Above all, we don’t want to be perceived as jewelers selling watches. It’s a consistent 360° approach : we modify the layout of our shops and the philosophy of the employees so that they have confidence in their product knowledge. In this way, we have started to train 3,700 employees all over the world, using 38 internal trainers and external consultants. The boutiques will be transformed to accommodate watchmaking spaces, featuring different materials and a more masculine décor, like in Chicago at the beginning of the year and Geneva in May.
How much time are you allowing yourself to succeed ?
Once again, this is a long-term project that will strengthen Tiffany’s image and give it the status of a global luxury industry player. Today, we are a jeweler who sells more products than the majority of its competitors, and watchmaking will open new horizons for us, while enabling us to achieve economies of scale. This new approach has found favor with Tiffany at the highest level, and even though American culture is used to moving fast, everyone is aware that this is another universe and that it will take a few years. If we consider the brands that have made a name for themselves successfully over the past few years, such as Chanel or Richard Mille, it took the fastest amongst them between five and ten years.
What clients are you making your priority target ?
Tiffany’s uncontested advantage lies in the fact that we are going to win new clients, firstly by working with those who enter our 300 boutiques. We are therefore above all targeting men between 35 and 50 years old, who like American design and are looking for a simple, elegant watch with a good cost-benefit ratio. Many of them visit our boutiques to purchase a jewel for their loved one. In a subsequent phase, we will give multi-brand retailers a chance to offer our watches to their clients as well.
How do you see the Swiss market ?
Very densely populated! But our brand new 550 sqm two-floor boutique in Geneva must become our flagship watch store, providing access to the largest selection of watches and limited editions. We are naturally expecting Swiss visitors, but also expats and tourists. It’s our largest boutique in Europe and Switzerland must reach the point where it represents the equivalent for watches to our New York store for jewelry. Did you know that our flagship store on 5th Avenue achieves the second highest turnover in the world for a mono-brand boutique after Apple ? Of its five floors, one is entirely devoted to Patek Philippe.
What is your relationship with Patek Philippe ?
Tiffany was Patek Philippe’s first American retailer in 1854, and nine of our American boutiques sell their products. Together we regularly create Tiffany limited editions that are sometimes found at auctions for prices that are far higher than normal references. As usual, we revisited them at Baselworld.
You created your own company in 2003 and you are an entrepreneur. Don’t you miss it ?
Not at all – in fact it’s the same thing! Two years ago I started creating Tiffany’s watchmaking entity on my own, but it’s easier and quicker with this fighting strength, especially with regard to suppliers. Obviously the responsibility is a lot greater than any I have had previously. I love what I do, and I still feel the same passion, but on the next level !
*In this regard, read “Tiffany, the return of the American giant” on WorldTempus.com