Van Cleef & Arpels Adds China Boutiques to Fuel Sales Growth

Van Cleef & Arpels, a Cie. Financiere Richemont SA brand selling $141,000 timepieces with moving ballerinas on them, is expanding its network of boutiques in China to bolster sales growth this year.

The maker of jewelry and watches plans to build on the seven boutiques it already has in that market with two openings this year, Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Bos said yesterday in an interview at this week’s watch fair in Geneva.

Richemont this week reported sales for the three months through December that lagged analysts’ expectations as growth in Asia Pacific stalled. Weakness in wholesale channels in the region likely stemmed from high inventories, according to Jon Cox, head of Swiss research at Kepler Capital Markets in Zurich. Paris-based Van Cleef & Arpels is in a stronger position than some brands as it has less exposure to outside distributors, Bos said.

Van Cleef & Arpels is expanding its range of watches with enamel-decorated jewelry timepieces featuring butterfly and kite motifs. The brand is also introducing a watch with a ballerina on its dial and wings that move to indicate the time when a button is pressed.

“We see tremendous opportunities to use fine watchmaking and mechanical movements,” Bos said. “Ladies care about jewelry technique, and we thought that would translate into watches.”

Van Cleef & Arpels makes about two of the ballerina watches each month. The brand plans to expand its watch-assembly facilities in Switzerland over the coming years, Bos added.

Bos took over as CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels last year when former Chief Executive Stanislas de Quercize left to run Richemont’s Cartier brand. Bos previously ran Van Cleef & Arpels’s North American operations.