Kering obtains Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin

Thursday, 31 July 2014
Luxury conglomerate Kering continues to expand its luxury good assortment with the acquisition of luxury watch brand Ulysse Nardin. The French holding company previously shared its goal of stepping into the Swiss timepiece market and on Wednesday announced the successful acquisition of the 168 year old luxury watchmaker during its first-half year results. The label will become part of the group's 'Luxury – Watches and Jewelry' division, which is led by Albert Bensoussan. Kering first began investing in independent watchmakers Jeanrichard and Girar-Perragaux in 2008, before acquiring the brands in 2011.

Ulysse Nardin to strengthen Kering's watches and Jewelry division

“Ulysse Nardin benefits from a rich heritage, high profitability and solid growth prospects. Independent high-end watchmaking manufacturers are rare,” commented Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering. “This is an opportunity that we had to seize, particularly because this structural acquisition will enable us to take advantage of numerous synergies with our existing brands.”

Ulysse Nardin, one of the last remaining family controlled luxury watch manufacturers in Switzerland, is known for its high quality marine chronometers. Founded in 1846 by Ulysse Nardin, the label's roots stem from the nautical and seafaring world. The brand is based in Le Locle, one of the country's main watch manufacturing locations, where Richemont's Montblanc timepiece label, LVMH's Zenith as well as Swatch's Tissot production centers are also situated.

In 1983, the eponymous watchmaking label was re-launched by Rolf Schnyder, who turnaround the ailing brand and cemented its brand DNA as a historical watch manufacturing expert in marine chronometers and high-tech timepieces. Ulysse Nardin remains one of the few integrated watchmaking brands in Switzerland, producing its own parts and movements.

Once the acquisition is finalized during the second half of 2014, Ulysse Nardin will help strengthen the group's luxury watches division whilst giving Kering independence from one of the industry's main suppliers, Swatch, who has cut down on its deliveries to rivals over the past few years. The watchmakers management team is said to remain on board, and the acquirement will enable the expansion of Ulysse Nardin into new markets.

“We have great ambitions for this company and we will help it continue its international expansion whilst staying faithful to its roots and its identity,” added Pinault. “I have long admired Ulysse Nardin and I am delighted that this brand is joining our 'Luxury – Watches and Jewelry' division.” According to a recent report from Euromonitor International, there is a resurgent appetite for luxury accessories, “especially in North America, Western Europe and Japan.”

Chai Schnyder, chairwoman of Ulysse Nardin's board of directors agrees with Pinault vision and adds: “Joining Kering is an opportunity for Ulysse Nardin. It will allow the brand to carry on with its international expansion and continue to innovate, while assuring the long-term future of its knowledge and expertise and the retention of its identity. I am delighted that Ulysse Nardin has found the best partner in Kering.

Image: Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer Manufacture and Imperial Blue.

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