Taking place at the St. Regis Bal Harbour’s Atlantico restaurant, the evening was hosted by Chopard President and CEO Marc Hruschka who welcomed an array of high profile guests including musician and producer Emilio Esefan, fashion designer Lei Marco, Consul General of Belgium Manuel Molina, and philanthropists Aristotle and Diane Ares and Oscar and Carole Seikaly.
Guests were given an exclusive tour of the newly renovated boutique while enjoying a private shopping experience, with all proceeds going to the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach.
The day before the event, Superyachts.com’s Shari Liu sat down with Chopard President and CEO Marc Hruschka to discuss the new boutique, the key to Chopard’s enduring success, and much more.
Superyachts: Can you begin by telling us a little about the decision to refurbish the Bal Harbour boutique?
Marc Hruschka: We’ve been in Bal Harbour for almost 10 years, it’s been an excellent market for us, but we decided a couple of years ago that we would reinvest. We were happy with our location, but wanted a little bit more space. We worked with Terry Despont, a very respected French designer, who’s done some amazing global projects including our Madison Avenue store in 2007. Our intent with Bal Harbour was for a new environment, a new concept. We wanted it to be grand but also comfortable…so it felt like you were coming into our home.
What would you say are the main values of Chopard?
Probably the most important thing we talk about in terms of our brand are our family values. We are completely family-owned and there is no bank or private equity interest. There’s been a lot of people interested in acquiring the brand but they have said ‘no’ to everybody that has come calling.
The people at Chopard are truly passionate about their business. They are owner operators, they are there every day, they travel the world to attend events, strategic meetings, look at markets…They are very hands-on and when you’re a part of that you understand that part of your responsibility is to be an extension of them.
How has Chopard dealt with the global economic downturn?
In 2009 every brand was in the same condition. It was a global economic issue. The specific challenge for our company was that we had trained jewellers and watch makers for years and sometimes decades and you can’t say to somebody who’s invested that much time, energy and money, “you’re fired”. You’ve got to figure out a solution.
What they decided to do was to bring down our manufacturing costs but not let people go. They were able to do that for a period of time to allow the markets a chance to rebound. The good news was that China, Hong Kong and Macau all rebounded quicker than a lot of people thought.
The issue that we all have now when you talk about the global economic situation is currency fluctuation. For example, the price of gold is three times whatever it was ten years ago, and it’s difficult to pass on that increase to the consumer. Then you have currency exchange issues, whereby the Swiss franc is very strong against all currencies and to manufacturing this is a disadvantage because everyone is buying from you in your local currency but you’re buying manufacturing in their’s. That’s a problem.
One thing a lot of people aren’t talking about, because it’s not as defined as a commodity, is diamonds, which have gone up an extreme amount in the last 10 years. So we have an increase in the cost of raw materials, and an increase in the cost of production because of the currency fluctuations and we have to work out a way to still offer a great product at a reasonable price to consumers. That is one of the biggest challenges in the industry today.
How would you describe the current trends in the jewellery world?
Well, everybody’s been talking about watches shrinking in size for the last few years but the consumer has actually still been going for a larger case size. However, within the last six months or so we’ve started to see people wanting smaller case watches against the large sport watches. I am hesitant to say it’s a trend, because I don’t believe that, but I think you’re getting more of a balance now between smaller case size and bigger watch.
Rose gold is still doing very well, and coloured stones and coloured diamonds also. Emeralds are also very hot right now.
Finally, what sets Chopard apart from your competitors?
A combination of extraordinary design and vision, amazing quality, being a service and client driven company first and the fact that we’re almost entirely vertically integrated. We do everything from the manufacturing process all the way into the store. It’s all 100% quality, design and distribution controlled by us. There’s nobody else, and that is unique.