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Case Study: How Rotary Moved into the Premiership

Rotary Watches is a fourth-generation, family owned, mid-market Swiss watch brand which competes against global luxury giants with a range of affordable classic Swiss watches.

Three years ago, the decision was made to re-shape its growth strategy to focus more on consumers in emerging markets, with Asia Pacific being a key region. Whilst Rotary had already started to spread its risk by diversifying internationally, the size of that business was still tiny.

In 2010, 12% of Rotary’s turnover was overseas. That increased to 25% last year and in 2014, the target is over 30%.


Victoria Campbell

“As a mid-market brand we realised we were perfectly positioned to capitalise on the emerging middle market in countries such as China and Indonesia where the consumer’s appetite for affordable Swiss Made watches was growing exponentially,” says Victoria Campbell, Managing Director of Rotary’s parent company, Dreyfuss Group.

“But as a medium-sized firm, our global marketing budget could not match that of a multi-national so we needed a strong international brand-building strategy to help us punch above our weight. In that sense, what we set out to do felt like a David and Goliath struggle.

“We not only needed a game changer but an accelerator – something that would give us an international calling-card. It is especially important when expanding internationally to work out your story and what makes you different because you have to find a way to stand out in a competitive market.”

With over a hundred and eighteen years of Swiss family watch making heritage and with four successive generations of the Dreyfuss family at the helm, Rotary already had a compelling pedigree but wanted to address the issue of lack of brand awareness in some overseas markets. Rotary’s solution to this was to partner with a larger brand with an established international footprint.

“After working with some sports sponsorship experts and researching various options, we signed up with Chelsea Football Club at the end of last year to become their global time-keeping partner. Chelsea are a perfect fit for us because they are a global brand with a huge and fast-growing fan base. People may not realise that they have more fans in Indonesia than in the UK!

“We have a physical presence at the ground as well as on the Club’s website. When a match is being played we have a presence on the LED digital advertising boards and as every single Chelsea match is shown live overseas, this means that the Rotary brand is being beamed into millions of homes world-wide. We also benefit greatly from the Club’s own multi-channel social media marketing efforts which dovetail with our own programmes.”

Partnering with Chelsea has also had a major knock-on effect across Rotary’s other marketing initiatives, Victoria says.

“Previously we might have had a partnership agreement with a retailer for a presence in 30 of their stores in a particular geographic region. But the clout that the Chelsea partnership brings us means that now we have a presence in all of their stores. This was the case with one of our customers, a Hong Kong-based, cross-regional retailer where post Chelsea, we now have a presence in 300 stores across Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau, China and Singapore .

“Over this period it has been very helpful to be an Academy member and to meet regularly with a small group of business leaders who you know and can trust,“ Victoria concludes.

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