Breaking News : Kering acquires Ulysse Nardin

Breaking News : Kering acquires Ulysse Nardin

by Olivier Müller

There aren’t so many major independent watch brands left, such as Breitling or Rolex. Since today, there’s even one less : Kering (Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard) just announced it acquires Ulysse Nardin. The brand will join Kering’s ‘Luxury – Watches and Jewellery’ division, headed by Albert Bensoussan, and the management team will remain in place. The deal is subject to the consent of the competition authorities and should be finalised during the second half of 2014.

Kering acquires Ulysse Nardin – Who is Ulysse Nardin ?

Founded by Mr Ulysse Nardin in 1846 with its roots in the nautical world, the eponymous watchmaking house was taken over and re-launched in 1983 by Rolf W. Schnyder who transformed it into a profitable business in a healthy financial position. The company benefits from a very strong brand identity based on its historical expertise in marine chronometers and complication watches.

Ulysse Nardin has long been one of the most innovative independent watchmakers. The brand was a pioneer in the use of cutting edge technologies and state-of-the-art materials like silicium, which today ensures that it has the in-house expertise, particularly in regulating systems, to produce its own components. Its coherent range of watches positioned in price segments that are growing and its efficient distribution network are also major assets.

However, the CEO of the brand recently told us that he considered his current portfolio too extended, and he started reducing the number of references available – work in progress…

Kering acquires Ulysse Nardin – What’s the next step ?

This acquisition constitutes a structural development enabling Kering to strengthen its ‘Luxury – Watches and Jewellery’ division with a clearly positioned business that complements its other brands. Over and above the opportunity for Ulysse Nardin’s geographical expansion, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, it will enable the deployment of the numerous synergies linked to Ulysse Nardin’s technical and industrial expertise and its excellent distribution network – contributing to accelerate the growth of the whole division. Recently, Ulysse nardin opened a dedicated shop managed by Kronometry 1999, in Paris.

Meanwhile, this acquisition is a clear step for Kering towards LVMH (Hublot, TAG Heuer, amongst others). Watchmaking is a growth driver and with ‘only’ Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard, Kering was one step away from LVMH. However, Kering has a wide range of luxury brands (Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Brioni, Christopher Kane, McQ, Stella McCartney, Tomas Maier, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Dodo, Pomellato, Qeelin, Puma, Volcom, Cobra, Electric and Tretorn) and this portfolio will certainly help Nardin’s growth. Not to mention that the industrial capacities of Ulysse Nardin will probably serve the goals (and needs) of their brand new cousins, GP and JeanRichard. What is not known yet is if the tremendous R&D capacities of Nardin will also be shared with the two others…

    Author Bio

    Articles by Olivier Müller


    Olivier Müller is a professional journalist specialising in horology. He divides his time between Geneva and Paris, covering horology-related topics for a dozen or so magazines and specialist websites in Europe. He is also a regular speaker at various events. In 2008, Olivier Müller set up Delos Communications to manage the writing side of his business, spanning five European countries. Delos Communications also provides consultancy services for horological communication, helping brands as they define and implement their strategy in terms of positioning, messages and audience. In addition to the world’s two largest watchmaking groups, Delos Communications’ clients include a broad range of emerging independent brands, as well as public-sector bodies keen to promote their local watchmaking heritage. Five people work for the agency, including a journalist, a photographer, a community manager and a translator, all with expertise in the world of watchmaking.