Supplier News

CITIZEN SAILS AND SALES

Retailers helped boost Citizen to its best year ever in 1994. Citizen thanked 500 of them in the sea breezes off San Diego

More than 500 retailers got as close to an America’s Cup yacht race as possible without getting wet in March. Aboard the cruising yacht S.S. Hornblower just off San Diego, Cal., the retailers closely followed two of the three U.S. yachts battling for the Citizen Cup to represent the U.S. in the America’s Cup finals in May.

The retailers were winners in Citizen’s incentive program, in which every Citizen or Noblia watch sold between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 was an invitation to enter an additional ticket in the grand prize drawing. The more watches sold, the greater the number of possible entries.

Citizen, the official timer for the America’s Cup and one of the leading sponsors, treated the retailers to four days in San Diego, covering their air fare, meals and lodging at Loews Coronado Bay Resort. The jewelers, their spouses and several children also were treated to bus tours of San Diego and visits to several compounds where the racing teams dock and repair their yachts and prepare for races. The retailers and their guests had lunch at Team Dennis Conner’s compound.

The contest was designed in part to boost Citizen and Noblia sales in the final quarter of 1994. It appears to have succeeded. Double-digit sales increases made last year the best in Citizen’s history, says Peter Nicholson, vice president of marketing and advertising services. Actual figures are unavailable.

In addition to enhancing sales, say Citizen officials, the event helps generate retailer enthusiasm toward the company and its watches. “It was nice to meet some of the executive staff,” says Debbie Anderson, co-owner of Anderson Jewelry & Design, Blaine, Wash. “I learned a lot about sailing, too.”

Laurence Grunstein, president of Citizen Watch Co. of America, greeted and chatted with a number of the retailers during the events. And Stuart Zuckerman, vice president of merchandising and special events, joined retailers during most of the Hornblower’s trips. He oversaw much of the logistics involved in escorting the retailers to and from the airport, to the boats and during the tours. The race sponsorship, timing technology, advertising and incentive program cost Citizen about $10 million.

“The race offers incredible exposure to consumers,” says Zuckerman. The Citizen logo welcomes visitors at the airport and reminds them of the race on pennants along the roads from the airport. A huge advertising campaign accompanies the races, and sports television coverage reaches millions of viewers worldwide.

Retailers also have generated interest by spotlighting one of the limited-edition watches Citizen created as race sponsor. Anderson notes that after customers see the America’s Cup posters and display she created at her store, they come in and ask questions about the race. Her experience attending the event in San Diego makes her the local “expert” and adds to the excitement at the watch counter.

Citizen’s expenses for the America’s Cup are part of its overall global marketing campaign. Last year, U.S. advertising totaled $9.3 million, making Citizen the largest spender in the $50-plus retail category for midpriced and better watches, according the Leading National Advertisers annual compilation.

AUDEMARS AND TOURNEAU RAISE MONEY FOR GARDEN

Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet and New York City watch retailer Tourneau will sponsor the New York Botanical Garden’s 1995 Spring Party fund-raiser June 8.

The sponsorship marks a continuing effort by Audemars Piguet to help protect the world’s forests. In May 1992, the company established the Fondation Audemars Piguet, which receives a percentage from each sale of the company’s Royal Oak watches. The organization recently provided a grant to the Botanical Garden to fund research on a 40-acre untouched forest in the middle of the Bronx in New York City. Scientists have come from all over the world to study the forest, which is identified as one of only a few to withstand the effects of air pollution.

Audemars Piguet and Tourneau cite the importance of the garden to the city and its residents. “We’re all concerned with improving the quality of life where we live,” says Anthony D’Ambrosio, executive vice president of Tourneau. “A visit to the Botanical Garden is truly a very special experience.”

LIZ CLAIBORNE DOUBLES WATCH DISTRIBUTION

Liz Claiborne Watches, one of the major entries into the hot fashion watch market last fall, is now being sold at about 1,000 department stores nationwide, says Neil Katz, president of Liz Claiborne’s watch division. The success of the line backs numerous indications about the strength of the fashion watch market (see JCK, January 1995, page 90).

The watch line debuted in 450 stores in November and now is being added to the showcases at many stores operated by the Dillard, Federated and May department store chains. Katz says the success of the line indicates that fashion watches now truly can be considered an accessory. “Where in the past a woman might have one watch she would always wear, today, with lower prices and more styles, she can have a wardrobe of watches,” he says.

The Liz Claiborne Spring/Summer Collection has more than 150 styles with a number of pastel straps, black-and-white patent leather bands, reversible bands and a selection of nautical looks. More bracelet styles also are available.

The watches are 23k goldplate in matte and polished finishes with oval, tank and round faces. Each is sold with a lifetime warranty and carries a suggested retail price between $60 and $120.

SUPPLIERS ON THE GROW

Bernard Grosz Inc., which distributes the Stefan Hafner collection of Italian jewelry in the U.S., opened new offices and a showroom at 608 Fifth Ave., Suite 810, New York, N.Y. 10020; (212) 333-3111.

Swest Inc., Dallas, Tex., is now an agent and dealer for Memco Inc., an investment-casting equipment manufacturer in Dallas. Memco manufactures Inducto-Vac, Electro-Vac and Alloy Master investment casting systems and other equipment. Swest, 11090 N. Stemmons Freeway., Dallas, Tex. 75229-4544; (800) 527-5057 or (214) 247-7744.

Shube’s Manufacturing, a sterling silver jewelry maker from Albuquerque, N.M., opened a new gold jewelry division called Golden Sun. Kenneth J. Erickson, president of the new division, is formerly of London Star, New York, N.Y. Shube’s Manufacturing, 600 Moon S.E. Albuquerque, N.M. 87123-3232; (800) 545-5082 or (505) 275-7677.

Stuller, Lafayette, La., is now an authorized codistributor of Tulipset solitaires made by Leser Enterprises Ltd., New York, N.Y. Stuller will stock three styles of Tulipset solitaires – round, marquise and princess – in 14k yellow gold/white gold and in 18k yellow gold/platinum.

Adwar Casting Co. moved to larger facilities at 120 S. Long Beach Rd., Rockville Center, N.Y. 11570-5624; (800) 255-7755 for orders, (516) 678-7755. The company also has a Manhattan showroom at 15 W. 47 St., Room 1007.

Gerry Grinberg, chairman of North American Watch Corp., presented a $100,000 check to Thomas Abraham, a director of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The check is the result of early sales of the Movado Children of the World watch designed by artist Romero Britto to benefit the hospital. The check was presented at the hospital’s annual Miracle Ball in Miami, Fla.

Stuart Zuckerman, vice president of merchandising and special events for Citizen Watch Co. of America, joined more than 200 retailers on an excursion aboard the S.S. Hornblower as it follows one of the qualifying heats in the America’s Cup yacht race in San Diego.

Citizen teamed with Dennis Conner and the crew of the Star & Stripes to design the women’s day/date watch and the men’s chronograph. The watches allowed retailers to generate interest in the races and in Citizen’s role as a sponsor. Citizen also released a limited-edition solid titanium chronograph.

The patented Rosenthal Bee will now be manufactured, sold and distributed by Bliss-Kasdin Inc. under a licensing agreement with H.M. Rosenthal Inc., New York City. Bliss-Kasdin has supplied Rosenthal with the colored stones for the approximately 56,000 Bees sold in the past 26 years. Bliss-Kasdin, 608 Fifth Ave., Suite 702, New York, N.Y. 10020; (212) 869-0728 or (800) 453-4542.