Nixon CEO Nick Stowe On Expanding Brand Retail Presence
In light of Nixon’s recent announcement to launch into the brand-owned retail business, we caught up with CEO Nick Stowe to hear more about the strategy behind opening several store locations in Europe, his thoughts on bringing the flagship Nixon retail model to other regions, and the brand’s philosophy on making the watch merchandising and retail experience a little more inviting to the consumer.
What are the dates that the Paris and London stores are slated to open their doors?
The Paris store opened yesterday, September 4, and the London store is set to open the week of September 29.
Why did you choose these two cities in particular to target?
We've been focused on several key European cities as opportunities for us to grow the business and reach a broader audience. The locations we've chosen, Carnaby in London and Le Marais in Paris, are just great retail areas that fit the brand. We looked hard at our wholesale and our e-commerce businesses to understand where we have really strong support, but where we still have room to go deeper with our own retail. It's about presenting a more complete experience, our way. We're confident the stores will elevate the brand with consumers and show our retailers what we can do.
Here’s a look at the new Paris location, at 14 Rue Froissart:
Why did Nixon decide to open retail flagship locations in Europe?
Europe is a super important market for us and we've got great support there amongst consumers and retailers. But we're underpenetrated compared to the US and a few select retail flagships will help us ground and amplify the brand as we look to grow the business. These flagships provide a shortcut to the future of Nixon at retail and let us try some new things: open merchandising that takes our watches out from under glass; our sneaker-inspired watch wall; and a custom bar to create one-of-a-kind product. We're building out our product range and investing more in the brand, so it's natural for us to look for destinations where you can experience more of what we're doing, and where retailers can see what we're capable of and perhaps try on some of the experience for size.
As a market segment, how much growth has Nixon seen in Europe, and is that expected to grow?
Despite all the challenges that Europe has had, and action sports in Europe in particular, our business has grown. We're expecting strong growth this year and have invested in our infrastructure and the team, including new leadership under Philippe Gouzes who joined the team just a couple of months ago.
Talk more about how Nixon will apply the Horizon concept to marketing in and around the stores.
The Horizon concept is a visual treatment in the stores. It feels like the store has been dipped in color, and when you're inside you're immersed in the store, surrounded by the horizon line. Visually it's something that connects Nixon's surf, skate, and snow environments—a common thread of a horizon through each—and as a treatment of the store, it's arresting and fun, plain and simple. You'll see it in our stores and you'll see subtle nods to the horizon, and the idea of exploring the new in some of our marketing over the next year.
Why did the brand see an increased need to focus on product merchandising, and specifically this “hands on” approach?
The "hands on" approach is because watches have been sold in the same unhelpful way for years. Someone needed to get a little more democratic and inviting and set them free. Why put watches under glass and create a barrier and an intimidating experience when we have technology that let's us merchandise them openly? Let's you engage with them in a way that respects you and treats you like an adult. We're not Swiss, so why behave like a Swiss watch company? The fixtures in the store are about us having some fun. The Swiss are brown shoes; we're sneakers. And the open merchandising, the wave-inspired watch table, the sneaker-inspired watch wall reflect that.
Expand on Nixon’s global strategy moving forward: What other regions will you be targeting, how, and when?
We're in 80 countries around the world, with a great base and platform to build on. But the Nixon brand is bigger than the business, and we have plenty of opportunity to build out our sales. You'll see us getting louder in North America first, where we have great retail partners and distribution. We're building out our line with some more thought and segmentation to get the right product in the right place, and you'll see a new campaign from us this Holiday and a refreshed online presence to get the word out and connect more broadly. In Europe, it's about going deeper in our core countries and key cities, and we'll use our flagships as hubs surrounded by some new retailer relationships and e-commerce to help us build out. In Asia, we've got a great business in Japan that we're supporting with more dedicated product, and we're using a new store in Hong Kong and some great retail partnerships to build our business there and launch into mainland China. Finally, we're close to finalizing new relationships in Brazil and Latin America for our distribution there, which we're excited about. We've got a lot going on.