The strong will get stronger, and the weak “will eventually disappear”, Jean-Claude Biver assesses the pandemic The strong will get stronger, and the weak “will eventually disappear”, Jean-Claude Biver assesses the pandemic

The strong will get stronger, and the weak “will eventually disappear”, Jean-Claude Biver assesses the pandemic

Andrew McUtchen

We spoke to Jean-Claude Biver recently for an upcoming feature-length video, and while we were on Zoom, the conversation turned to the pandemic. We took the opportunity to ask him some pointed questions about the industry’s recovery. How long does he think it will take? Who will be the winners and losers? He also shared a “magical equation” that applies if you can “make the crisis your friend.”

Jean-Claude Biver discusses 2020 pandemic

How is this crisis different to others you’ve experienced?

“It’s not the first crisis we’ve seen, certainly for me. I’ve been in the watch industry since 1974 and this crisis that we have now is a global crisis. It’s a crisis because of a virus. It has nothing to do with a structural crisis of the industry, as we had when quartz came, that was a structural crisis. When you have a structural crisis, the recovery is totally different to when you have a pandemic crisis.”

When do you think we’ll be out of it?

“The first thing I can say is some brands will be out of the crisis in September, they will have a January comparable to last year. They will have a typical ‘V-shaped’ recovery. Some other brands will have to wait a few more weeks or months, until maybe March 2021. Naturally, this depends on how long the virus will go on. We are now in a second wave, there may be a third wave, we don’t know if a vaccine will work or not, there are still some elements that can happen, so we must be careful.”

Will it effect each brand differently?

“The crisis will also have different amplitudes depending on the brand. Brands that were already in a bad shape before the crisis, or brands that were weak before the crisis. They might suffer much more than the strong. The strong will get out of the crisis by becoming stronger, and the weak will get out of crisis by getting weaker, and will eventually disappear. We have to know in which camp are we? At Hublot we are certainly among the strong. Which means, for us, the crisis must become an opportunity to become stronger and to gain market share. That’s now our main concern. During the crisis, how can the crisis be our friend and not our enemy? Because if the crisis is the enemy, you are lost, you cannot win. So, when the crisis becomes your friend, then you have the synergy of the crisis and you can make market share.

“You know, in mathematics, the difference between plus one and minus one is two. When there is no crisis, your competitors are zero, and when you make one – the difference is one. In a crisis, your competitors might be minus one. When you still make one, you have two. It’s a very magical effect that people sometimes forget! That’s why in the crisis you must really do all you can to gain market share.”