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IN CONVERSATION WITH... GILES BUSHBY
'THE BIGGEST MYTH IN THE WATCH INDUSTRY IS THAT SWISS IS BEST.' - GILES BUSHBY
GB&RS Ltd is the brainchild of Giles Bushby (ex CEO of FOSSIL UK) and Raj Sedha. Bringing decades of experience and fusing the best from British and Swiss engineering to make a product with a staggering price tag (Staggering in the reasonable sense I should add). All the design, marketing and manufacturing takes place in Yorkshire, China and Switzerland and distribution and sales from their warehouses in Norfolk. Keen to champion British design and curious to know a little more about the brand and the Minster 1949 watch range, as well as wanting to know a little more about where the watch industry is heading, I managed to speak directly to one of the company's founders, Giles Bushby.
Tell me more about the Minster watches. What sets them apart from its contemporaries?
“The Minster brand has two unique points, a genuine heritage and British made. The brand has been around since 1949 and has been revived to produce vintage inspired product with modern manufacturing techniques. British made is about setting a point of difference for the brand and delighting in our heritage. The watches also are designed to the highest specifications, screw in crown, 20 ATM, deployment clasps and 3 year guarantee and have a vintage design language which is very relevant to today's market. In summary Mister1949 represents quintessentially British made style.”
How do you manage to not compromise or cut corners on the quality, yet maintain entry level pricing?
“Many years of experience in sourcing product and materials and keeping the business very lean. This way the public can enjoy British made product at an accessible price.”
What experiences have you taken from the Fossil group that you have implemented into the GB-RS brand?
“As one of the founders of, and latterly the CEO of the FOSSIL Group in the UK was an enormous honour and it allowed me to forge relationships within the industry that still hold strong. It taught me above all to remember who the customer is and to ensure the customer and the end consumer are kings in the supply chain. Without someone to buy our watches the industry does not exist.”
Do you think that the needle is going the other way now towards quality, as opposed to fashion brands that have dipped their toe into the chronograph water and instantly felt out of their depth?
“It is. The fashion branded business still has legs, but is showing signs of slowing down. The interest has turned to watch brands which are true watch brands, not couture labels developing mid-priced watches. One of the reasons for the revival of Minster is that it has a lengthy heritage as a watch brand and therefore holds more gravitas.”
Why are there not enough British Watch makers around? Is it an industry that we feel isn't synonymous with British manufacturing?
“There are many fine British watchmakers currently plying their art. What hasn’t happened though until Minster is mid-priced British made. Watch making should be linked to Britain in the public psyche as the wrist watch was first developed in Britain and until the mid-20th Century Britain was synonymous with the watch industry. Again for me one of the key reasons to revive Mister is to push British made into the mid-price market. This will allow the end consumer to have an additional choice and an ability to support British made products.”
Are smart watches a fad? Can you see it lasting or even eclipsing the industry?
“Smart watches are a really clever addition to the watch market. Their functionality will always attract certain customers as will certain brands (Apple being the foremost). I firmly believe that this addition will not eclipse the more traditional watch industry. The key to this is multiple ownership of watches especially in the mid-priced sector. The end consumer buys into brands as well as look and functionality and has been used to wearing different watches in different circumstances. A smart watch (even if it changes colour etc.) cannot be all things to all people for all occasions.”
What are the common misconceptions about watches?
“The biggest myth in the watch industry is that Swiss is best. I concede that the Swiss watch industry has manufactured incredible products which are as fine as any in the world, but there are thriving watch makers in many other countries, Germany and the UK in particular, equally as good. We need the end consumer to take off their Swiss made goggles and realize that British made is a fantastic product.”
What's next for GB-RS, what boutiques are you looking to get yourself into this year?
“We are looking to expand Minster into a series of quality independent retailers through 2016. Keeping a degree of exclusivity is important to us as we see Minster as limited in its distribution despite being at an attainable price. Product development will include 2 new families in 2016 (one ladies and one gents) and the evolution of a new Minster concept which will be the first of its kind – more on this later.”