Friday, April 15, 2016

The Rise, Fall, Rise, Fall, Rise and Fall Again of Daniel Jean Richard

Or is that Jean Richard, no wait - JEANRICHARD!  Like many out there, I continue to scratch my head when it comes to the strategy cooked up by the (former) twin houses of the Sowind Group.  Unsubstantiated reports are that on the first day of this year's BaselWorld there were one or two boxes of JEANRICHARD watches, and that edicts were issued from far up the food chain, and those same boxes disappeared overnight and were never spoken of again.  A lot has changed in just over three years.

Looking back, there was about a 14 month period where JEANRICHARD was an exciting, vibrant, engaging brand.  Great products for the money.  And it finally made sense.  A modular case that could be used for three different models - diver, chronograph, standard (or aqua, aero, terra).  It was scalable.

But as is often the case with JEANRICHARD (and if we're being fair, Girard-Perregaux), somebody got the fidgets.  They just couldn't sit still.  "We need gold pieces!  Oh, and manufacture movements!  Oh, and we need BIG TIME celebrities and partnerships that everyone will identify with - like... a circus performer, no, wait!  Tightrope walker!  Yeah!"  And my suspicion is that marketing pitches for these partnerships might possibly have been accompanied with some lubrication from the absinthe family, because some of them made no sense at all.  The Arsenal Football Club partnership was perhaps the one big-time opportunity. This was on a par with a Biver-esqe, take no prisoners and make no apologies partnership.  And in the beginning it was lauded as a triumph, but about a year later it would amount to Arsenal branded JEANRICHARDs being dumped into the grey market, along with every other limited series that had been produced.  Thus underscoring that, in fact, there was virtually no limit to the number of limited editions!

Things groaned, sputtered and began to grind.  Top management left.  Two years after their triumphant debut at BaselWorld, what had been an equal presence for Girard-Perregaux and JEANRICHARD had been halved to simply a Girard-Perregaux booth with a broom closet sized room for JEANRICHARD to attempt to show watches, and maybe sell something.  It literally resembled the stock room of a Wall Mart where all of the damaged/returned products get dumped.  It was sad to say the least.  But there was one more card to play, and that was to totally remove JEANRICHARD from the booth this year.  Budget concerns were cited.
But just as cutting off the food and oxygen supply will kill life, cutting of marketing, sales, etc. will kill a brand.

It would, seemingly, make more sense to simply try to sell-off JEANRICHARD or to close it down completely, rip off the band aid and move on.  But perhaps the answer is in between these two spaces - a bit of a dormancy like Wonka's factory.  Nobody goes in, nobody goes out.  Hopefully one fine spring day a few years from now, a dynamic, charismatic character will fling open the doors to the factory welcoming all who have a golden ticket and the sky will be the limit!

Yeah, I don't see that happening either...

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