American businessman buys 90% of the company New Tack For Corum
Corum, one of the world's last independent watch brands, has changed hands with 90% of the company's shares now acquired by Mr Severin Wunderman, an American businessman well-known in the watch industry. The remaining 10% is being held by the founder's son, Mr Jean-René Bannwart.
The new owner said that, "Just as the phoenix rises from the ashes, I want Corum to recover the international reputation it deserves while maintaining its rich tradition and expertise". The news has been well-received at the company's head office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where the current staff level of fifty will be maintained.
Since December 1998, Corum had been co-owned by the Bannwart family and the Al Fardan de Doha Group (Qatar). After several months of negotiations, Mr Wunderman (picture) acquired the majority shares of Corum in his name rather than through his own company, Severin Montres Ltd. As he explained, "I want to get involved in the company personally. I intend to keep the current staff in place, from management to production, and to capitalise on the strong traditions that have built up Corum's reputation around the world."
Mr Wunderman has set some ambitious objectives to develop the brand internationally. He plans to realise them through a reinforced distribution network (3,000 sales points have been mentioned), with priority given to Corum's key markets, the United States, Asia and Switzerland, and through the opening of an office in Geneva to serve international customers. Mr Wunderman also plans to do without as many agents as possible and use the savings to increase the brand's competitiveness.
In 1999, the brand had a turnover of 30 million Swiss francs and a production volume of around 9,000 watches. To achieve a projected turnover of around 200 million Swiss francs over the next five years, Mr Wunderman plans to launch a new collection, currently being developed under the name Corum Boutique, at prices ranging from 1,000 to 2,500 francs. These will be considerably less expensive than the price range of present models, from around 3,000 to 20,000 francs and rising to two million for certain jewellery watches. Furthermore, several new models, mainly in the enormously successful Admiral's Cup collection, will be introduced at BASEL 2000. Mr Wunderman hopes to produce 200,000 pieces for the Boutique line.
In time, the company should be able to create new jobs in La Chaux-de-Fonds.