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Breitling CEO Georges Kern Talks Building A Cool And Relaxed UK Top Breitling Replica Watches Brand

Breitling’s road to growth is a long one, and Georges Kern is savoring every minute of the journey. The marketing and management wunderkind who began his career at Kraft General Foods and later made his mark repositioning IWC at Compagnie Financière Richemont is clearly loving his double life as a shareholder and chief executive officer of the private-equity backed watch brand.

He joined best UK Breitling replica watches, which is marking its 140th anniversary this year, in 2017, and has helped catapult the brand into the top 10 of Morgan Stanley’s annual ranking. According to the bank’s latest annual Swiss Watcher report, estimated sales in 2023 were 870 million Swiss francs, or 890 million euros, with 178,000 units sold, and an implied retail market share of 2 percent. Breitling ranks at number nine, unchanged from last year, and above brands including Tissot, IWC and Swatch.

Kern is also driving the brand’s sustainability strategy, which includes using only lab-grown diamonds and responsibly extracted gold, and is in the process of revitalizing the storied Swiss watch brand Universal Genève. Breitling purchased the brand late last year, and it’s set to be relaunched in 2026.

Despite the current challenges facing the watch industry, Kern sees nothing but opportunity ahead, and is eager to build market share in variety of geographies, including China. An unconventional leader, he believes success relies on intuition and creativity as much as it does brains and experience. Here, he talks about his ambitions for Breitling, and the joys of running an independent company.

It’s a big year for perfect 1:1 Breitling fake watches, with myriad launches and events planned. What is the overall message you want to telegraph?

Georges Kern: We have been doing a very good job over the last six or seven years of being relevant again in terms of product design, the tone of the brand, marketing and [projecting] a contemporary, cool [image]. We want to build on that, tell the story of Breitling and offer even more content and substance to the brand, and to the consumer. We have a couple of things in the pipeline, including a book of 140 anecdotes around the brand — its people, technical innovations and ventures. It’s not written in a classical way but as a series of short stories. We also have a pop-up museum that will open this summer in Zurich, and we’ll have three expensive [designs] coming out in late summer during the Geneva Watch [Days]. We’ve also launched the high quality replica Breitling Aerospace B70 Orbiter watches as part of our 12-month long anniversary activation.

In 2017 you left a top job at Richemont, one of the biggest luxury groups in the world, to join the independent, private-equity backed Swiss made Breitling copy watches. How different has it been running a stand-alone company versus life inside a big, powerful group?

G.K.: In a big group, you are embedded in a kind of power house, but there isn’t the flexibility or speed of a privately owned brand because you have all these committees and processes. We’ve been [growing] like crazy over the last couple of years because we’re independent and we can move quickly, with a very short decision time. I don’t think that we could have developed as quickly and as positively as we did if we had belonged to a [large] group anywhere in the world. For the wholesale replica Breitling watches restart, it was the right thing to be with private equity. It was also a huge motivation for us, as we are all investors.

It’s a totally different way of working. We are partners and I’m not an employee. The investors wouldn’t make any decisions without me [and vice versa]. It’s the same for the senior management. For me, for my personality, it has been an amazing journey. I love what I’m doing, be it with CVC or Partners Group, which is now the majority shareholder. I’m extremely happy to have great partners. They are very smart people.

How are you dealing with the slowdown in luxury spending? What sort of impact has it been having on business?

G.K.: You always have to differentiate between the long-term development of an industry and the bumpy roads, which now are being caused by the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, inflation and high interest rates. Am I worried? No. You have to live with it. I believe the luxury industry will grow tremendously over the next couple of years because you have more and more rich people coming into the game, and you have new markets like India, Indonesia and China developing further. I’m very confident about the future.

If you look at the so-called slowdown of the luxury industry, you have three [different dynamics]. The first is the normalization after COVID[-19], because the market had been on fire for a couple of months with people catching up on what they couldn’t buy during [the pandemic]. The second was revenge traveling, which we had last year. People were spending much more money on traveling than they had in the previous two years. And what they spent on travel, they didn’t spend on luxury goods.

Then, at least for the Swiss watch industry, many companies lost growth and profitability because of the strong Swiss franc. If brands did decide to increase prices, that obviously had an impact on EBIT and on top line. If there’s no further disaster in the world, [the business] will come back.

What’s it like being an independent player in a sea of brands owned by luxury groups? Is the competition with the big groups ferocious?

G.K.: At the end of the day, what is a group but the [presence] of more, or less, competent managers? There is no such thing as God in a group, who can influence a brand in a positive or negative way. You have a frame, some cash, and structures in place, but if the individual manager is not good then the brand will not perform. At the end of the day, it’s the quality of the individual management team that makes a difference.

Being part of a group can bring power [and scale] but at the same time Partners Group has billions in assets under management [$147 billion as of Dec. 31], CVC has the same [186 billion euros]. We’ve had to fight for our position in the market, but we’ve become so big and are respected by our retailers and partners. I don’t see any major negative points compared with the big groups’ brands.

What are your overarching ambitions for Breitling?

G.K.: We can be one of the top five watch brands in the world. We can double or triple our turnover. I’m totally convinced because the company has the depth and the width in terms of product. It has history — and I think we have a proven strategy. The major point is that only 10 to 15 percent of our target group knows the new cheap fake Breitling watches. The old Breitling was very much about aviation, it was very loud. Imagine the growth we could have if 80 percent of our target group knew about the new Breitling? Already we know that most people, when they see us, want to buy the brand.

For me, the next coming years will be about using our full potential, and doing more of the same. We don’t need to change because we have a proven strategy. In addition, we’ve acquired Universal Genève [the storied watch brand founded in 1894] and we’re going to relaunch it in 2026. It’s a big brand to relaunch and it’s fascinating. I’m wearing one today, by the way. It’s very motivating, and everybody is expecting great things from us.

Can you talk about some of your other expansion plans?

G.K.: We are now at around 270 boutiques and we want to increase that number to roughly 350. There are many countries where we’re putting in lots of effort, including Mexico and India. China is still strong for us because we started at a very low level, and it will take years until we reach our fair share of market similar to what we have in other countries. But it’s a more a tactical than a strategic issue, and it’s about building boutiques and awareness. We are successful in Asia, in Western Europe, in the Middle East. We are successful everywhere, so we will be also successful in China. But the implementation and work take time. So, I would say we’re focusing firstly on the development of retail, and then [we’ll be looking at] developing in the big markets.

What kind of customer are you appealing to?

G.K.: We don’t think in terms of male or female, aged 20-plus, or 50-plus or 40-minus. It’s more about lifestyle. We want to be the cool and relaxed alternative to the more traditional brands out there. We have a clear design code and we talk about new luxury, which is sustainable and inclusive, approachable and casual. It’s more a style, a design and values that you buy rather than a socio-cultural segment. You’re a Versace girl or you’re an Amani girl. You need to choose your style — and it can be for any age.

Are the demands of sustainability proving a challenge?

G.K.: Everything is difficult. Making products is difficult. Building retail is difficult. Managing retail is difficult. Being sustainable is difficult because you need to control your supply chain, but you have to do it. You cannot be successful, especially with the up-and-coming customer base, if you don’t have a proper ESG policy in place, which we do. And that takes time to put in place. We have also launched lab-grown diamonds. [Breitling plans to fully transition to lab grown stones by the end of 2024.] But it works.

How have you brought to bear your past experience, especially your years at Richemont, to Breitling?

G.K.: There are three things that are important in my business. First, you learn from mistakes and experiences. So when I joined luxury Swiss replica Breitling watches, I was around 53. I had made mistakes previously, which — thank God — I haven’t made again. You also need experience. When you’re young, you’re more arrogant and you believe it’s just knowledge [that you need]. But it’s also experience. Second is teamwork. Today, we are all investors, and it’s one of the best teams I’ve ever had. And when you have skin in the game — and many of my colleagues have major skin in the game — there is a totally different attitude and sense of responsibility. During COVID[-19] I found out how great the team was, saw how they reacted and behaved, and how they took decisions in the right way. The third thing is something I don’t think you can learn. I call it intuition. It’s knowing what [will] work — or not. At Breitling, there was never any market research behind [our decision-making]. We just did it.

Can you elaborate on the importance of instinct in the luxury business?

G.K.: In the luxury industry, you don’t answer a need, you create a need. Everything [we’ve created over the past years] was invented by us through intuition and creativity and this is something you cannot learn. If you have it, and if you have a team who can help you with it — that’s great. And, if not, it’s not great. What people forget is that being intelligent in the luxury industry is not enough. It’s not good enough if you’re analytical and intelligent, and if you can analyze your competition or your market. You need to have a great sense of intuition and creativity to create these needs [for the consumer] and to feel the market, and to launch something that people will buy in a year or two when it comes out. [You need to create something that doesn’t] exist today. That’s the kind of talent you need to have, which goes far beyond being smart. You have McKinsey guys who are very smart, but they would be totally incapable of running a luxury company. Goldman Sachs people — they cannot [do it either]. It’s not their mindset. Having a [big] brain is not enough.

What’s the first, or most important, question you ask when you’re interviewing a candidate for a job at AAA online Breitling super clone watches?

G.K.: It’s very difficult [to conduct an interview] especially for senior positions. The problem in interviews is that, even with years of experience, you can fall [flat], because you never know. You have half an hour, 45 minutes, but you still don’t know how that person will perform, or how they will integrate in the team and interact with his or her peers, or superiors. It’s very difficult. I want to sense the person’s character, [probe] what that person did in his or her previous life and how they can fit into a team. It’s like in soccer. You have players who play very well in one team, then go to another team — and it’s a disaster. And they change again, and it’s great again. Your talent might work in one context, but not in another one.

What are you doing when you’re not working?

G.K.: I am a cyclist, and I cycle a lot during the year, between 3,000 and 4,000 kilometers, mainly in Majorca and Switzerland. It’s a great sport for keeping fit, a great team sport, and one that you can do with friends. My hobby is also producing movies and series. I produced the French film “Mon Chien Stupide,” in English it was called “My Dog Stupid” [based on the short story by John Fante]. Now, we’re in the last phase of launching it as a [TV] series. I have the director, the main cast, the pilots, the outline. It will be in English and produced in the U.K. I am coproducing it with the director, the main cast and the scriptwriter.

What do like best about film production?

G.K.: I have to bring things together — finance, people, the story, the IP. That’s just one part of it. The second part is the development. For the series we only have material for one season, which is based on the book. We don’t have material for two or three seasons. We have to invent the second and third seasons — and that is a very cool process.

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