Swiss watchmaker to open nine stores in the US this week

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Omega is pushing for major expansion in the US, with nine stores slated to open across the country this week.

A Chicago boutique will be unveiled this Thursday (November 18), followed by other store launches in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Scottsdale, Ariz., Nashville, White Plains, N.Y., Hackensack, N.J., and Jacksonville, Fla. Another 15 locations are slated for spring 2011.

The stores will offer Omega's entire range of men's and women's watches, including the new Ladymatic line, for which Nicole Kidman is the official spokesperson.

"This is a big, big move in terms of investment," Stephen Urquhart, Omega's president, told Women's Wear Daily. 'But it shows that we believe in the U.S. The time is right for us to get a foothold here.'

Urquhart added that he expects America to become Omega's biggest market for corporate retail. Yet, as of right now, the watch company only operates one standalone store in the US on Fifth Avenue in New York, despite boasting some 70 boutiques worldwide.

Omega goods are primarily sold in the US through its 120 partner-operated franchises under its current business model. Urquhart explained his company's new strategy: "We realized the only way to get a foothold was to do it ourselves. A third party won't commit financially or emotionally."

The Zurich-based purveyor of timepieces is 160 years old. It is owned by the Swatch Group.

Another Swiss watch brand planning an important foray into the American market this year is the five-generation, family-owned business Breitling. The luxury watchmaker is planning to open its first-ever US store on 57th Street in New York this December. The new retail space will span 8,000 square feet and three floors and feature Breitling's entire collection of fine timepieces, including watches from the Breitling, and Breitling for Bentley lines.

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