Celebrating its 15th year as an exclusive agent for travel retail, duty free, and in-flight markets, Worldclassbrands has transformed its business over the past few years, shifting its portfolio to the “products that consumers want,” says Lenny Di Cristofano, Worldclassbrands president.
“We are seeing double digit growth in large part because we shifted our product mix and anticipated what was to come,” says Di Cristofano. “We saw that people at the extreme high-end were buying luxury but other consumers were buying impulse items or looking for value propositions. Worldclassbrands has never really focused on the high-end product ranges, items at $2,000 or more. We began transforming about three years ago, readjusting our jewelry and watch mix to ensure that we are the right company for our partners and have the products that consumers want.”
As part of that shift, in 2014 Worldclassbrands was named the official travel retail agent in the Americas for Tyko Travel Retail for its range of Breo watches and sunglasses, Hippie Chic watches and Kartel watches.
“Tyko Travel Retail is a great strategic partner with whom we are now going into year three. We’ve made tremendous strides and opened some really big markets with great product sell-through. From one supplier we were able to fill the $35 to $75 niche in watches and sunglasses.
“We placed Breo’s freestanding unit in Miami airport and are adding additional locations because it is such a great impulse gift that consumers respond to. We opened up the entire Canadian border market, opened the U.S. with DFA and Dufry, and are continuing to roll out.
“Hippie Chic is another great impulse gift with a value proposition. In our first year with Hippie Chic, the company sold over a million units onboard over 100 airlines globally.
“The same is true for Kartel, a watch that retails for $95, but gives the right look. It is a value proposition.”
Worldclassbrands also signed with Dutch fashion house Oilily, for the first time venturing into beauty bags, cosmetic bags, and fashion bags.
“Oilily was a new direction, allowing us to diversify from our core competencies of jewelry and watches. We opened quite a bit of business for Oilily and are enjoying growth in Colombia and Argentina in South America; in Puerto Rico, and on the U.S. Canada border. In Cancun Airport we’ve gone from a gondola to full wall units and expanded from three locations to five,” he says.
G-Shock and Baby-G watches have also done very well. “The brand is fantastic and is probably the fastest growing brand in our mix. The only limitation is supply.”
Di Cristofano says Worldclassbrands’ 15 years as a travel retail agent gives the company the expertise to help niche brands thrive in the market.
“We think of ourselves as brand builders, as duty free specialists. We know this market. We understand the client, the consumer, and the needs of the market. This experience distinguishes us from a brand or a company doing it on their own. We have a team of people who follow up with all
the necessary work that needs to be done. What we can do in the first 18 months will take an individual company five years. Our contacts, our know-how, our knowledge of the inner workings of the industry take time to learn.”
Di Cristofano sees the industry going through another transition now with all the consolidation taking place and cautions that agents must be prepared to adapt.
“If you are not prepared to offer multiple options in the regions where these operators function, you can get lost in the process. Worldclassbrands is making sure that we have the right mix of products, and that we remain important to our clients,” he says. “We only commit to the brands that we feel are missing or have a purpose in the industry.”
Worldclassbrands is the exclusive global travel retail/duty free, cruise and in- flight agent of JOIA De Majorca (Authentic Majorca Pearls), G-Shock/ Baby G (Watch Collection), Breo (Watch and Accessories), Kartel (Watch Collections), Hippie Chic (Watch and Accessories), and other brands including Oilily, Thortiuda Angel Whisper- er, Story by Kranz & Zieglar, Ti Sento by Milano, Men’s Jewelry by Aagard, Ritmo Mundo, Officina Bernardi, Sasura, Casio’s Edifice collection, Canadian Ice Diamonds, Rotary Watches, and Festina.