One-On-One With Watches Of Switzerland Group Executive Vice President David Hurley

One-On-One With Watches Of Switzerland Group Executive Vice President David Hurley

Adrienne Faurote
By Adrienne Faurote November 21, 2018

Photo courtesy of MAYORS

One year after acquiring MAYORS—the leading fine jewelry and timepiece retailer in the Southeastern US—Watches of Switzerland Group is spearheading a complete brand relaunch, which will encapsulate a larger audience and a new demographic of buyers: millennials. The relaunch began this fall and will continue in two stages over the course of eight months, by way of a new ad campaign, an updated digital platform, a more contemporary logo, a website redesign and new packaging. The 16 stores across Georgia and Florida will also receive makeovers. MAYORS’ 108 year heritage will remain an important part of the brand’s DNA, though introducing new jewelry collections—bridal, diamond and high-end jewelry—expanding the bespoke design service, upgrading in-store presentation and the updated website will help educate the new wave of consumers.

1Photo Credit: MAYORS

“MAYORS has a wonderful heritage story and reputation in the local community, and we are excited to evolve with a new visual identity, contemporary collections, and a strong digital presence, while staying true to who we are,” began Brian Duffy, CEO of Watches of Switzerland Group. “We are a brand that has offered an incomparable selection of jewelry and timepieces along with first-class service for over a century, and we look forward to welcoming a new generation of customers into the MAYORS world.”

Haute Time had the opportunity to sit down with Watches of Switzerland Group Executive Vice President David Hurley to discuss the relaunch, MAYORS and what we can expect from the brand in the future.

28Photo Credit: MAYORS

Tell me about the acquisition.

DH: We’re celebrating our one-year anniversary. It’s just over a year on October 23rd when we acquired MAYORS. We were really delighted with it. It’s been a crazy first year, as you can imagine. We’ve been really busy over the course of the first year with a huge amount of investment into the business and we’re really only just at the beginning. We started off with investing in additional staff to support our back office and have taken our systems that we have in the U.K. and brought them over here to the U.S., as we are the largest retailer of luxury watches out there. Therefore, when we looked at MAYORS we just saw that there was a huge amount of similarities in terms of the business and in terms of the brands carried, the scale of the distribution that they have within Florida and in Georgia, and of course, in the people and culture as well. So we’re bringing different things together. Also, working with Al [Rahm] and the team here who really have that expertise in clientele and in jewelry helps so much. Combine that with our expertise in digital and it’s been working wonderfully. We’ve got significant market share in the U.K. and online—I think it’s over 40-percent, per the numbers this morning—and as you know, everybody’s research starts online now. I think it’s about 80-percent of all luxury purchases that are researched online first and for watches and jewelry, it’s even higher at 90-percent. So with our relaunch of our website, the new social media platforms, etc., it’s all things we really believe in and good changes that meet our new customer’s needs.

What other changes can we expect to see specifically?

DH: A lot of Watches of Switzerland clients already know what they want when they come into the story because they’ve already researched it online on our websites. MAYORS didn’t really have that, so now the site is really fit for a purpose. We’re going to invest significantly behind it, not just to drive online business, but also to drive people into the stores themselves. It’s been a huge amount of work done and it’s all kind of flown by. But you’re going to see that huge amount of work done on the brand itself, as we’re essentially relaunching the brand with a dedicated ad campaign, changing the logo, the packaging, etc., which you’ll see all over billboards and stores. I think it’s been about 15 years since anything has changed, so it’s the right time for the relaunch with an investment in our people as well, in terms of training. We’ve done over 10,000 hours of training on brands of jewelry over the course of the last six months. So we really believe in our staff, but the more educated they are on the product we’re holding, the better it is. We’ve also had a huge investment in the inventory itself. We’ve got over $60 million in merchandise here just for our event tonight alone. Al has done a fantastic job of curating the assortment. There are some really incredible pieces here. It’s a hugely exciting time for us.

1Photo Credit: MAYORS

What will the new stores look like?

DH: Well our new store design concept will debut in Merrick in April of next year, where we’ll be next to Gucci. It will really be more contemporary and have a new level of luxury. We will obviously have lounge areas, more open spaces. We’re using the designers that we’ve used for a lot of our Watches of Switzerland stores, who’ve also designed the Bergdorf Goodman space in New York on Fifth Avenue. Of course, this industry is incredibly capital-intensive. You have to continue to invest or you die. We see it out there ins email everywhere. People keep saying retail is dead but it’s just changing.

Tell me about the changing MAYORS client.

DH: Well, I think you know we have incredibly loyal customers. Customers who’ve been here from let’s say, when they purchased their engagement ring for the wedding through changing that ring and getting a higher karat for a later stage in life. So we’re thankful to have huge customer loyalty. But we do attract a younger clientele because of the brands were carrying and the jewelry itself. We have to continue to change that. I hope over the course of the next year where we retain all the best of MAYORS and its 108 year history, but also attract new clientele in our online and digital investment, which will result in a demographic expansion.

AR: [Executive Vice President of MAYORS Al Rahm] It’s a new market for self-purchasers too. Young ladies like yourself are buying a lot more for themselves. We need to be able to speak to the young women of the world who are out in the workforce with the ability to purchase. That’s a new and a very important client to us. It is an investment and the reality is that we are offering an incredibly high quality of product that we brought into effective every one of our stores.

Why do you think a younger demographic is looking to spend on jewelry?

AR: Wearing jewelry is part of your wardrobe. The same way you buy shoes and handbags, young women are also wearing jewelry. So we have a line of fashion jewelry that’s very wearable, but is on another level of quality from department store jewelry. It’s affordable luxury.

DH: It’s what I like to call a rational indulgence. It’s not something you’re taking away and it loses its value immediately, like a car, where it’s already worth 70-percent of what you purchased it for. It actually appreciates in value. But also it holds sentimental value and each piece tells a story. The reality is that people have many choices today in terms of how to spend their money and their time. So we have to offer them something that really create a lasting effect. I think people are looking for unique pieces and understand more about the craftsmanship behind what it is that they are purchasing, whether its jewelry or a watch. That’s become more and more important to people today. I think we have some great stories to tell about our product.

AR: Even the watch that you’re wearing today [as Al points to my Rolex Daytona]. Ten years ago, a young lady would not wear a Rolex Daytona but there’s no longer male or female-specific watches. It’s fashion. That’s incredible. It’s fun. Jewelry is fun. It’s meant to be worn.

For more information, please visit the brand’s website.