Chopard CEO Karl-Friedrich Scheufele – exclusive interview

CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed exclusively Mr Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, CEO of Chopard.

How has your company performed this year?

Our company is present on different product segments of the luxury industry. We produce and distribute mainly watches, jewellery watches, jewellery and high jewellery. Accessories, sunglasses and perfumes only represent a small portion of our business.

There are indeed signals from various markets that things are looking up, compared to 2016. It is a little early to start celebrating but I think if this trend persists for a few more months, we will then be able to say that the worst is over and that we are on a positive track. I hope it will be a more sustainable growth. Chopard’s development is in line with this general trend and compared to last year, we have seen increasing orders over the past few months. We should nevertheless remain vigilant given the general geopolitical situation.

In general, our watch collections performed slightly better than last year and the jewellery part increased at a healthy rate in 2017.

Has your consumer profile changed, if in any way?

Absolutely, Millennials have become significant luxury consumers. We are exploring better ways to approach them and guide them toward our stores and our boutiques. Chopard has indeed developed strong digital platforms and we reach Millennials especially through social media and influencer campaigns. This being said, our traditional clients in their 40s to 60s are still very active!

You launched a collaboration with Rihanna, including a capsule collection. What motivated the strategic approach behind this initiative? How successful has the collaboration been?

Rihanna has been a friend of the brand for a long time, wearing Chopard for red carpet appearances. She is an icon in the fashion and music industry. Her ability to play with jewellery, her bold and modern choices made our collaboration unique and it was exactly what we were looking for. Rihanna speaks to Millennials! But the RIHANNA ♥ CHOPARD capsule collection is very versatile and appeals to different personalities, styles and ages; this is what makes it so special. We wanted to reach all possible age groups with a global icon, acknowledged for her style. The collaboration has been successful and is still ongoing; we are very happy with it.

What are the most important watches launched of this year? What is the ratio of watches of your turnover?

This is a very difficult question. I would first choose the latest L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru we launched in September at Monestier la Tour. This watch is the symbol of two of my most personal passions: wine and fine watchmaking. The L.U.C Heritage Grand Cru is one of the rare timepieces to have a mechanical self-winding barrel shaped movement.

The second watch I would choose is our Mille Miglia Classic XL 90th Anniversary Limited Edition, which celebrates the 90-year anniversary of the Mille Miglia race, a classic car competition I particularly cherish. It is the first time a Mille Miglia watch features our in-house manual winding chronograph movement, normally dedicated to the L.U.C collection.

Besides your legendary sponsorship of the Cannes Film Festival, this year you had a strong presence at Paris Haute Couture. Tell us more.

Paris Haute Couture is a very important platform to display the ultimate high jewellery pieces created by Chopard. This year, we collaborated with the very famous Chinese designer Guo Pei and launched a High Jewellery capsule collection matching with her sumptuous new collection called Silk Road.

What is your approach to online sales? Do you consider selling on major platforms?

Online retailing still represents a relatively small percentage of the Chopard Group’s business and there is definitely potential for growth in some parts of the world. So far, we operate two Chopard e-boutiques, one in the USA and one in Great Britain and we are evaluating further opportunities.

Many clients search for information and then shop online. However, the majority of our clients still prefer to purchase in a traditional boutique environment. We value online communication as an important sales tool and as a leading luxury brand, Chopard needs to have a strong presence online.

Recently, on October 11th, Chopard presented some products on NET-A-PORTER, marking an important partnership for our Maison with a global luxury online retailer. The platform NET-A-PORTER offers timeless creations from Chopard’s iconic Happy Diamonds collection.

How important is the distribution through mono-brand boutiques versus wholesale? What is your business approach to mono-brand boutiques? – do you expand directly or through franchising?

We are very pleased with the development of our mono-brand boutiques versus wholesale. Our own boutiques are located on the main avenues or shopping malls of the world, for example on 1, Place Vendôme in Paris or on Bond Street in London. We also experienced a significant development with local partners who strongly believe in the brand and decided to open Chopard franchise boutiques, in Dubai or Moscow for example.

Is there a region/country you are under-represented and you wish you boost your presence?

The USA and India still offer an enormous potential for our brand.

How important is digital and social media in your strategy?

No doubt, digital and social media are really important in our industry, as explained above. It will slowly but surely replace traditional tools of communication.

Chopard CEO Karl-Friedrich Scheufele