FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO GLOBAL INFLUENCE
Under the leadership of Efraim Grinberg and his late father Gerry, Movado Group, Inc. has reached an impressive level of international recognition and respect.
by Irina Lytchak
For someone who has been credited with helping MovadoGroup, Inc. grow into the global empire it is today, Efraim Grinberg is very humble about his role in the company.
“I try to be a coach and a leader and to give our team the tools that they need to be successful,” says Grinberg, chairman and CEO of Movado Group, Inc. “But really, they’re the ones who execute the vision for this company all around the world.”
Movado Group designs, manufactures and markets Movado, EBEL, Concord, ESQ Movado, Coach, HUGO BOSS, Lacoste, Juicy Couture, Tommy Hilfiger and Scuderia Ferrari branded watches worldwide.
Founded by Gedalio (Gerry) Grinberg in 1961, the company was founded under the moniker Piaget Watch Company. By 1967, the name changed to North American Watch Company and, while having a strong focus on distributing watches for Swiss manufacturers, the company would go on to acquire labels like Ebel and Concord. Upon taking on the Movado brand in 1983, the company name finally became Movado Group.
Gerry Grinberg has been credited with changing the American way of thinking when it came to watches. Forbes magazine wrote that he “made the glint of gold on a male wrist a status symbol.” Grinberg passed away in 2009, leaving behind a tremendous legacy to the watch world – and to his son, Efraim, who came on board in 1980.
“I came [to Movado Group, Inc.] right out of college, and the company at that time didn’t have Movado, but we were a watch distribution company,” says the younger Grinberg. “It had been part of my family and when I started; it was a really small company. We had under 100 employees and you did everything you had to do in many different areas.”
EMPHASIS ON INNOVATION
Today, Movado Group employs over 1,000 people around the world. The name change in the 1980s came as a result of focusing on the company’s most substantial brand at the time.
“After we got out of the distribution business, we really focused on building our own brands,” says Grinberg. “We decided to name the company around our strongest brand, Movado. And today, in the Movado Group, we have 10 different brands.”
But success didn’t just fall out of the sky for an over $510-million company like Movado Group. Grinberg says the firm constantly strives to excel in design and innovation, partly as a result of the 2008 global recession.
“We realized that we had to put even more emphasis on innovation,” he says. “Consumers were going to be much more critical and much more challenging in how they bought, so we invested a great deal in that. I think we’re really thrilled with the design team that we’ve built and we spent a lot of effort and time focusing on making sure that we’re doing the cutting edge in design.”
Cutting edge design is just one of the factors that sets Movado Group apart in an industry that’s full of watch and jewellery companies trying to make a name for themselves. Upon acquiring the various names the company carries today, its top priority was to ensure that these brands didn’t get lost in the shuffle.
“I think we really focused on partnering with the brands that we represent to stay true to their DNA and stay true to their heritage,” says Grinberg. “We also have a very broad assortment of brands across a diverse portfolio of price points.”
Movado Group continues to push its brands by being a top contender at shows like JCK Las Vegas and Baselworld, where Grinberg says the level of reception from other jewellers this year was astounding.
The company also places very high value on its staff and the people behind the scenes who make it all possible.
“One of the things we’ve always focused on as a company is trying to be a great place for people to work at and a place that people want to come to work at,” says Grinberg. “We also wanted to be a company that gives back. So we’ve been very involved globally, but especially in the U.S. by supporting the arts. We try to instill that not only corporately but also in our employees, that we want to give back to society.”
PICKING UP ON TRENDS
Grinberg has had a hand in leading the global watch giant for several years now, which has given him quite a bit of insight into how watch trends and styles evolve.
“The one thing that I’ve actually seen over the last few years is that when a new trends comes, often it doesn’t make the old trend disappear, which is because of the growth of the fashion watch business,” says Grinberg. “Consumers are now used to having multiple watches. They’ll say, ‘One day I’m in the mood to wear my big watch, today I’m in the mood to wear my smaller watch. Or one day, I’m going to wear my ultra-thin dress watch and then another day I’m going to wear my 46mm chronograph.’”
Grinberg believes that in the next little while we will continue to see the prevalent trend of oversized watches for women.
“I think the ‘boyfriend’ watches are going to continue getting bigger,” he says. “And even though you’re going to see an increased level of femininity in watches, a lot of them are still going to be quite large.”
Being a true leader when it comes to trends, Movado Group is set on unveiling a wide range of new products through each of its brands.
“In each of our licensed brands, we have really exciting product coming in the pipeline this year,” Grinberg says. “We’ve upped our game over the last few years, and we’ve seen the results of that.”
As for the man behind the brand, Grinberg says working with great people and beautiful merchandise on a daily basis is what makes his job so enjoyable.
“I believe if you continue to work hard, to focus on what you need to do, and to execute your plans and your visions, you’re always going to continue to move forward,” he says. “The product is always evolving and fashion always changes and that’s what keeps it really interesting for me. That can keep you very passionate in this business for a long time.” CJ