In Dubai last week, the Swiss watchmaker Roger Dubuis opened its largest boutique in the world. Jean Marc Pontroue, the company's chief executive, speaks about the branch and explains why Roger Dubuis selected a Hollywood actor to be its brand ambassador.
Why did you choose Gerard Butler to be a brand ambassador?
We have used him to be the ambassador, not only of Roger Dubuis, but also of Excalibur, one of the iconic brands of Roger Dubuis. Excalibur is associated with [imagery from the] world of the warrior. Gerard, by the type of movies he has filmed such as 300, [is also] associated with the warrior theme.
How important are brand ambassadors and why?
The idea is to create interest so that the people can enter into our brand, hear more about our manufacture [process]. A celebrity like Gerard Butler is contributing to create this 'wow' effect or to create this eye-catching effect.
Do the sums add up? Do you think you get more value back in monetary terms by having Gerard Butler as an ambassador than the salary you pay him?
We never calculate that. When you work with a celebrity, the financial aspect will not be taken into account. It's part of your brand building.
The boutique that opened in Dubai last week is your largest in the world. Why Dubai?
Dubai is part of 10 cities in the world where if you want to be recognised as a credible, international and serious brand, you have to get a showcase. Before being a sales tool, it is a communication concept. It is a statement of the brand positioning. It's not really what we are used to calling a regular boutique. It's a sort of a lounge where you can basically spend one hour to enjoy. It is 160 square metres. We are more used to having boutiques at around 100 sq metres.
What do you do with the extra space?
We have more space to lose in a way. In a boutique, we believe it's important to dedicate space for enjoying, so that's why we have a lot of books in our boutiques which are really true antique books. We don't [just] show watches, which is why it's important to see what we mean because we don't have a regular boutique. Our boutique here is showing watches, but it has also other accessories to demonstrate, to show and to exhibit.
You have 20 boutiques in the world, two of which are in the Middle East, one in Abu Dhabi and the one in Dubai. Why have you not opened elsewhere in the region yet?
We are approaching the issue, but we like to take our time. We believe a lot in different steps. We believe that the entry door to the Middle East is number one, Dubai.
Abu Dhabi has been an opportunity, so we caught this opportunity. But the real, big retail operation in the Middle East is Dubai, from where we will expand throughout the region.