CARTIER prepares for slowdown in China and accelerates development in the U.S. and Middle East

French luxury brand CARTIER is accelerating boutique openings in the Mideast and the U.S. to be prepared if the Chinese market slows down. The jeweler is adding more shops in the Mideast, Europe and the U.S. to diversify its risk, said Bernard Fornas, chief executive officer of the brand, a unit of Richemont Group. He declined to give numbers for openings. “You have to prepare yourself for the worst when everything is going well,” he said in an interview at the Geneva watch fair. “Let’s be careful about overdependence.”

China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 3 percent yesterday, the biggest drop in two months, after the central bank ordered lenders to set aside more reserves and rising property prices signaled policy tightening measures may be expanded.

Cartier will continue adding boutiques in China, where it has about 37 shops, as the country is “so big and so rich” it still has a “lot of potential,” Fornas said. Cartier is also preparing itself for a possible slowdown there, the executive said, without making any predictions on Chinese demand.“There are always risks everywhere,” he said. “You cannot control the risk, because the risk comes one morning. It can be a disease, it can be a revolution.”

Cartier is expanding in the Mideast to benefit from oil wealth as the price of crude trades above $90 a barrel, Fornas said. The brand is also opening larger and better-located shops in Europe and adding stores in the U.S. “The U.S. have been slow to take off, but it will come back, I’m sure. They are not dead,” the CEO said. “So let’s be prepared to grasp the potential of all these regions.”