Read the exclusive interview with Ludovic Lesur, CHARRIOL’s New Managing Director who is speaking about CHARRIOL’s brand, challenges and participation to Baselworld 2011.

How would you define CHARRIOL as a brand?

To me, CHARRIOL is a lifestyle brand: one that’s different, unique, and exudes the high life.  It’s a brand for epicurean people who enjoy life the same way the founder does.  Mr. Philippe Charriol is an entrepreneur, but also a traveler, an adventurer, an art connoisseur and a gourmet.  He is also an avid sportsman and enjoys car racing very much.  All these aspects make CHARRIOL a brand for people who aren’t “followers” (of trends), but for those who want to be different and distinguish themselves from the rest.

You can find a personal touch of the creator in each collection: the Celtica, Rotonde, and SuperSport watches reflect the passion Philippe Charriol has for sports and are intended to be functional, bigger, and sporty, whereas the Colvmbvs, MD-52, and Alexander watches evoke a feeling of travel, adventure, and are more practical and classic.

The Saint Tropez and Celtic watches particularly reflect his passion for ancient history. They use the distinctive cable concept – the very essence of the brand that takes direct inspiration from the ancient Celtic culture.  As you certainly know, CHARRIOL was the first to use gold or steel cable as a decorative motif and as a watch bracelet.

CHARRIOL seems to be a very strong and recognized brand in Asia and the Middle EastWhat new developments can we expect over the next five years, and can we see CHARRIOL expanding into new markets?

It’s true that we are pretty successful in Japan, Greater China and Southeast Asia.  We have also done a tremendous job in expanding our network of stores in China, where we already have 100 points of sale. Our objective is to maintain as strong a brand presence as we can there, and we are working hard to open new stores. There’s also an increasing demand for luxury goods in India, a key market which we have been observing and believe will in the very near future be just as important as China for CHARRIOL.

Europe, on the other hand, plays a historical role because of our brand’s European roots. The market remains just as strategic despite the current economic crisis. In Western Europe, we need to reinforce our presence whereas in Eastern Europe, we are expanding in countries such as Russia.

In the Middle East, we just opened 15 new points of sale this year and are due to open more. Right now, we are also finalizing a partnership in South America.

How did CHARRIOL manage to weather the financial crisis of 2008 and what did the brand learn from this experience?

We were able to manage well throughout this period, thanks to the fact that our brand is well established in Asia and the Middle East. Both regions were less affected by the global economic downturn. There was a slow-down in our activities, but from a global perspective we were able to go serenely through it. It is vital for the brand to have opportunities worldwide, especially when economic conditions aren’t favorable.

What can you conclude from CHARRIOL’s participation in BaselWorld 2011?

We were very satisfied with our participation in this fair; it’s a major event for us. After several years of absence, we rightfully returned to BaselWorld this year in order to reestablish ourselves as an iconic brand.

On this occasion, we had the opportunity to strengthen our brand’s position and distribution network both in existing and new markets, particularly in Singapore where we recently opened two new stores this year.  We also had the opportunity to investigate new markets in Latin America and the Middle East.

Those who visited us were able to discover our new line of Celtic watches – the fourth generation of its kind this year to carry this prestigious name. These alluring timepieces boast a new patented ‘Chevron’ cable design which features a herringbone motif – all in all bringing a fresh new image to the brand.

Now, we are looking forward to 2013; the whole venue will change and we have decided to go back to the main hall (Hall 1.1) where we have always been. We will be located in a much larger space that will be able to showcase a wide range of novelties and comfortably accommodate each of our visitors.

What challenges lie ahead for the brand in 2012 and beyond?

Of course, we will launch a wide array of novelties following a brand new style and image. We will also improve our external communication effort by having a stronger presence on the Internet – especially in terms of social media.

We just opened our Official Fan Page on Facebook and new accounts have been launched on Twitter and YouTube last month. Further to this, we also created our very own CHARRIOL Blog as a part of our global strategy on social media. These efforts will form a comprehensive platform for us to share exclusive information and content with our fans. We also have a few other surprises lined up for next year.

In 2013, CHARRIOL will be celebrating its 30th anniversary and we are geared to surprise and impress our customers and fans.