Officine Panerai is making plans to increase production and open new boutiques for its luxury watches by the end of March 2013, in addition to those that the company already has around the world.
The Florentine company plans to open 15 boutiques, adding to the 33 that are currently opened, in hopes to move towards the world of retail.
“We are changing our distribution, reducing wholesale and increasing the retail because we are confident retail will be a part of our future,” Angelo Bonati, CEO of Panerai, said to Dow Jones Newswires during an interview at the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie show in Geneva, Switzerland.
Bonati also said that the company earns a higher profit selling through its own branded boutiques, but rejected to reveal the balance between retail and wholesale revenue.
“The new boutiques will improve our sales for sure, but they will also improve our image. Image is more important than sales, especially at the beginning because image produces sales,” he said.
Four of the new boutiques will launch in Asia in the the cities of Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai. Four more will open in the Middle East and three will be set up in North America. Panerai will also open one in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Locations have yet to be decided for the remainder of the boutiques.
“If you don’t have your own retail in Asia you are nothing,” said Bonati.
Panerai is also planning to increase production and efficiency by building a factory in Neuchatel, Switzerland in March.
Upon opening, the new factory will likely replace an existing one in the city. Panerai currently employs 130 people in production, but will recruit extra workers for the new factory, increasing the number of employees to 300.
Bonati added that 2011 has been one of the most successful years, in terms of sales, for Panerai and that the company will likely grow in 2012.
Currently, Panerai has boutiques all over the world, including the cities of New York, Madrid, Dubai, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Moscow and Paris. With four lines of timepieces – Historic, Contemporary, Specialties and Special Editions – each boutique acts as a meeting place for the luxury brand’s customers, collectors and fans. Typically, Panerai produces fewer watches than the market demands and many are categorized as “limited” or “special edition.” Retailers are usually put on a waiting list to receive popular models, as they receive few limited edition timepieces per year.