In an extraordinarily frank interview with Joe Thompson in the June 2011 edition of WatchTime, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek Jr. says the state of watch retailing in America is "at the level of a third-world country."
Hayek throws the US watch retailing business under the bus by criticizing everything from the merchandising of the watches to the ill-informed staff. The experiential aspects are little better than buying a used car, Hayek implies. He's especially critical of watch chains and department stores.
Since the retail environment is so unsatisfactory, Hayek Jr.'s plan is to open more than 50 Omega Boutiques which sell the namesake watch and other premium brands in the Swatch Group stable. These will compliment the 60 Swatch boutiques, four Tourbillon stores (higher-end brands, including Bregeut and Blancpain), and planned Happy Hour stores (low-to-mid-range brands, such as Mido, Tissot, and Longines).
The longer-range hope is to partner with a US-based retailer that shares the same vision and passion for Swiss watches or to acquire an existing chain, such as Tourneau, and turn into a model of contemporary Swiss-watch retailing.