Sold: Swiss Watch Retail Giant Bucherer Acquires U.S.-Retailer Tourneau LLC

By Ben Newport-Foster

On Wednesday, Bucherer, the 130 year stalwart of European watch and jewelry retail, announced that it would be acquiring Tourneau, the largest U.S. based watch retailer.

This is not the first time that the European retail chain has acquired a company to expand their reach as in May, 2017, Bucherer acquired The Watch Gallery, a UK based watch retailer. In a press release about the Tourneau acquisition, Bucherer CEO Guido Zumbühl said that “With this acquisition, we will immediately introduce the Bucherer brand to millions of potential customers in one of the most important global watch and jewelry markets. This is also a great opportunity to firmly establish the Carl F. Bucherer brand in the US and introduce Bucherer Fine Jewellery into the North American market.”

In 2006, Tourneau were acquired for over $300 million by private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners but the last 12 years have not been smooth sailing. Since the sale process started in 2016, Tourneau have closed 5 stores and now have 28 across 10 states and in January 2017, an unnamed source told the New York Post that the additional traffic caused by security outside of Trump Tower has lost the flagship store nearly $2 million in sales. Whilst no details have been announced, I’m sure Bucherer do have some planned changes for Tourneau but I’m curious as to how they’ll approach the cultural differences in retail.

From personal experience, I can attest that the language and method of sales in America is very different to that in Europe. I’ve had sales assistants follow me in circles around a jewelers in America, despite me insisting I have no intention to buy anything. In Europe, the sales assistants typically remain at a professional distance from you and don’t try to become your new best friend in the space of 5 minutes.

Jörg G. Bucherer, owner and President of Bucherer, said in a statement that “We want to inspire our American customers with outstanding choice and an impeccable Swiss service culture providing the very best shopping experience “. What this means for the rank and file sales assistants currently working at Tourneau is unknown but it will certainly be interesting to see how this acquisition of one of the oldest brick and mortar retail stores in America plays out over the coming years.