— The co-founders of the Frédérique Constant group yesterday announced that they have sold their three brands to the Japanese. Why?
Those who attended the laying of the foundation stone of the Frédérique Constant factory in Plan-les-Ouates in 2004 may remember the small boy taking an active part in this important moment with his two parents, Aletta and Peter Stas, founders of the brand. This factory was to some extent built for him and embodied the brand’s future. Piet-Jan has since attended a number of the family-owned brand’s events, more recently with his younger sister. The two children have since grown up and chosen different career paths than those of their parents. But as loving parents, Aletta and Peter encouraged their offspring to follow their hearts and have now listened to reason by entering into discussions with the groups who had been making advances to them for a number of years.
Playing in the big league
Things have changed a lot since the couple shared the attic of a small office in Carouge with a handful of employees. Having started from nothing 25 years ago, Aletta and Peter Stas today manage a group of three brands (Alpina, Ateliers de Monaco and Frédérique Constant) and an efficient factory in the golden square of Plan-les-Ouates, with 170 employees spread across six subsidiaries, which enjoyed uninterrupted double-digit growth in 2015, which their horological smartwatch contributed to after the brand was the Swiss pioneer in this new product category. Their network of 3,000 retailers around the world last year sold over 150,000 montres. Such an accomplishment leaves nobody indifferent and naturally fostered a certain amount of envy.
A five-year handover
With substantial investment projects on the horizon, such as a second wing at the factory awaiting planning permission, a new stand in Hall 1.0 at Baselworld, a new platform for developing smart watches, not to mention the problems of the current economic climate, securing the future of the company by integrating it within a major group seemed the best solution. There will no doubt be some opposition to this seemingly counter-intuitive choice of an alliance with the Japanese, to which Peter Stas replies : “After a detailed analysis of the situation and numerous discussions, we were increasingly impressed by the innovative technology of Replica Citizen Watches. We see an opportunity to create a Swiss-Japanese partnership to develop and sell the fake watches of the 21st century and beyond”. He mentions cooperation on the development of mechanical, electronic and hybridcalibres, as well as the power of the Citzien and Bulova groups on the North American continent in terms of marketing and distribution. The three brands will be managed independently within the Citizen group, and Aletta and Peter Stas, as well as their management team, have committed to stay on board for at least five years.