Fossil Watches one of the best American Watch Company.
Fossil is the biggest company nobody knows much about. Many people, especially people in the watch industry, tend to overlook Fossil. After all, the product is primarily quartz, overwhelmingly fashion, with a very reasonable price point.
Fossil was founded in 1984 by Tom and Kosta Kartsotis, brothers, currently Chairman of the Board and CEO respectively, focusing on fashion and value at a time when no company was really doing that. The image the company communicated was vintage Americana, which turned out to be a huge homerun. Quartz movements from the Orient helped Fossil design and manufacture price point critical timepieces, fashion statements that could be mixed and matched, and repurchased when fashion changed, and the Fossil company was born. Since 1984, the company has experienced astounding growth. In 1993, with revenues of just over $70 million, the company went to Wall Street and became a NASDAQ listed company trading under the symbol FOSL.
To ensure quality and have control over its production, Fossil started to acquire assembly facilities in the early 1990s. As the company's success continued, Fossil expanded into other areas, including leather goods, sunglasses, licensed products and the company focused on expanding into new geographical markets as well. Today, the company sells various accessory products under multiple owned and licensed brand names across over 90 countries around the world. These products are sold in department, specialty and jewellery stores in addition to the company's own retail stores and e-commerce website with yearly sales now exceeding $850 million.
How Fossil Does It
Fossil is nothing if not a hub of creativity. So many different designs are created within the building in Richardson, Texas, it's a wonder that the people can continue doing it month after month, year after year. In the fashion world, there are four seasonal markets for which Fossil has to have new product. Now, not every watch they introduce is a winner, but the ones that do succeed have a shelf life (often six months to a year) while the marginal watches drop out of the line, never to be seen again.
The overwhelming philosophy behind the products coming from Fossil is fun, fashion and quality — which encourages impulse and repeat buying. After all, when a watch costs about $75, how long do you really have to think about the purchaseı
The various brands that Fossil owns or licenses have different product philosophies, but the overriding mission is to provide unique product at a reasonable price.
And Fossil does this incredibly well indeed.
Fossil, as a company, encompassing all its brands, developed more than 12,000 new designs last year, bringing between 2,000 and 3,000 to market.
"What makes Fossil unique is the way we approach the business," says Shannon Washburn, Vice President, Watch Product Development, Fossil. "We are a creative marketing company with a very commercial base. Fossil designs product that is directional in the market and offers a great fashion look and value to our customer. Being first to market and setting a fashion direction is what sets us apart."
Fossil has its own stores where the company tests innovative designs and styles. If a style sells well, the company can react quickly to capitalize on that success.
The design areas of Fossil are filled with energy, the walls plastered with sketches, pictures to encourage brainstorming, pieces of art, toys and fun things, all to keep the designers fresh and on the edge. The atmosphere throughout Fossil is one of creativity and casual fun - I didn't see anyone in a suit and tie, and every office was filled with interesting objects, pictures and paraphernalia.
"Here, they hire good people and leave them alone to do their job," says Gary Bollinger, Senior VP and Brand Manager for DKNY and Frank Gehry with Fossil. "These are 'Fossil people.' You gotta have toys, it's a creative atmosphere."
Each of the design areas for the different brands are carefully cloistered, so the designs developed for Fossil, for example, don't drift over to another brand. It's important to Fossil that the design process be unique for each of its brands (house and licensed).
"We work in cells and I supervise 65 people here," says Tim Hale, Senior VP, Image Director. "We have year to year increases in the number of people by about five percent, while growth of the company is historically approximately 20% annually."
Though Fossil watches are all over the board in terms of design and function, there is a Fossil sensitivity to everything that the company creates. "I think it has to do with the quality we put in," says Richard Gundy, President, Fashion Watch Brands. "When you look at the Fossil brand, we've been solid stainless steel cases and bracelets for a long time. The leather products are very high quality. The watch has a feel and a look that sets it apart. I think that customers can identify with Fossil product."
Fossil's warranty on watchesı 11 years.
Though Fossil is known primarily as a fashion brand, there are technologies that the company develops that are pretty cutting edge. The colour changing technology, used first in the Fossil Kaleido watches, was a big step forward for the company and a phenomenal success (it is still in the line and still being expanded), while the work on the SPOT watches with Microsoft (Fossil calls it Wrist Net) is an area the company hopes really takes off. Wrist Net allows the wearer to customize his/her watch, via the Microsoft MSN network, to display up-to-date content (news, weather, sports, oh…and the time).
Fossil has been phenomenally successful since its inception and all signs point to the growth and success continuing.
"We continue to have incredible growth and increased opportunities, with all of our brands worldwide," Gundy says. "We foresee huge growth. We forecast 10-15% every quarter. It's the process we have. It is the speed of execution, from idea to product in the store, and it is the execution in the store. It's a constant attention to detail.
"Fossil is the dominant story in our company, because it is so large in watches and other categories," Gundy adds. "We bring professionalism; we bring excitement at the store level so the ultimate consumer gets a feel for the brand in packaging, execution, and styling. I think we are much quicker to market products than any other company. We have a great commitment to have the right products in the stores at the right time."