Lamborghini and Roger Dubuis - When cutting-edge technology meets sophisticated design

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Premium cars and watches have a unique pull on the minds of those who want more out of life and pride themselves in having a refined taste.

Having them not only signifies achievement of one’s dream but also signals to the world the owner’s desire to not settle for anything less than the very best.

When it comes to four wheels, Lamborghini are very much in the clouds when we talk about dream cars. The iconic brand, which was formed in 1963 to take on established names like Ferrari, has carved a niche for itself with cutting edge technology and trendsetting designs.

Even so, development is a constant process. Which is why Lamborghini have teamed up with premium Swiss watch makers Roger Dubuis and crafted the unique Excalibur Aventador S range of timepieces inspired by the Aventador S engine and the new Huracan Super Trofeo EVO.

The Excalibur Aventador S is available in two interpretations – the 88-piece limited edition that bears the Lamborghini “Giallo Orion” yellow paint code and the ultra-exclusive 8-piece edition that comes in “Arancio Argos” orange. The time-pieces combine high-tech materials, including multi-layered carbon and C-SMC carbon that uses the same technology as that used for Lamborghini cars.

The Excalibur Aventador S range of time-pieces are powered by the specially-developed Duotor, which is a Lamborghini-exclusive movement. The partnership hopes to create a unique and fascinating experience for both Lamborghini and Roger Dubuis patrons where premium cars and watches combine to provide a more gratifying experience.

Sport360° spoke to Giorgio Sanna, head of motorsport at Lamborghini Squadra Corse, and Dorothee Henrio (right), marketing director at Roger Dubuis, regarding the partnership and what it means for its customers, especially in the Gulf region, and how they expect the market to behave in the coming future.

GIORGIO SANNA

How will the partnership with Roger Dubuis enhance the Lamborghini experience?

We have a lot of vision in sharing with Roger Dubuis. Because our customers are of similar age, vision and taste. They like mechanics, designs, something that is out of the ordinary. We share these things together.

We believe that through motorsport activities and other events from both sides, there is a good opportunity to create a bigger network. That’s good for both of us.

Our customers enjoy incredible cars and incredible watches.

Give us an insight into the changing dynamics in the ultra-premium market of supercars. How do you engage with the new generation of enthusiasts?

We are a young, sporting brand and we are really satisfied to have younger customers, below 40. What it means is regarding loyalty, we can look into the future.

What the customers, young or otherwise, are looking in a Lamborghini is emotion. That’s where we are focussed on. To create cars with unique design, the wow effect. Easy to drive with outstanding handling and performance.

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Middle East series will be back for a second edition next year. How did the opening edition this year pan out?

We will continue to invest in the Super Trofeo Middle East series. We had 50 cars on the grid in the first season, which is a good result. We are looking to improve the numbers.

The motorsport scene in the region has been impacted due to recent market conditions. How does Lamborghini plan to meet these challenges?

At the moment, we are glad to repeat the championship in the Middle East. It’s a very good opportunity for teams from Europe and Asia, during off season, to do practice and test the new line-up of drivers. It’s clear Middle East is a challenge. But we like challenges. Middle East has big potential, it has wonderful tracks.

Will F1 or even Formula E be on Lamborghini’s radar?

We are not looking at Formula E. We are only focusing on customer racing, not a factory programme. We have consolidated a very good platform in customer racing in Super Trofeo and GT3. Any other category we will consider but the intention is to remain in customer racing.

We will evaluate opportunities in the GTE category. It’s the natural step up after GT3. The technical regulations will change in 2020. We will take a decision in the near future.

DOROTHEE HENRIO

How does Lamborghini enhance the Roger Dubuis experience with this collaboration?

It’s not a classic partnership. It’s not just about putting the logo on the car…we will be one of the main sponsors for the 2018 Super Trofeo season.

The most important part is working together, putting engineers and watchmakers together and making the best out it.

That’s how we came out with the new watch – two engineers worked with the watchmaker.

Excalibur Aventador S - Arancio Argos

  • Production: 8 pieces
  • Strap: Bi-material with black rubber base and black Alcantara inlay, orange stitching
  • Retail price: Dh945,000

For Roger Dubuis patrons, we will offer them a Lamborghini experience, take them to the race while for Lamborghini clients we will entertain them at Geneva.

For example, after a tour of our manufacturing facility in Geneva, we take our patrons on a helicopter to a glacier.

What else will Roger Dubuis customers get from this collaboration?

Roger Dubuis clients will be invited to the Super Trofeo races. It will be a full package. We will not only be celebrating the tie-up at the HQ level in Geneva but other places as well like Monaco, Dubai. That has already happened. We were present in Goodwood Festival of Speed, in the Geneva Motor Show. There is mutual attraction between the two brands.

What aspects of the Lamborghini are incorporated in the watch?

There is the ‘X’ that goes over the engine represented on the face of the watch. The angle that goes on the V12 is reproduced on the Duotor. We have a new functional strap that uses the metal from inside the car. The new movement Duotor we have in this watch will only be used for Lamborghini. We have two patents on these watches.

How do you assess the market of premium watches in the Gulf and how will this association help you gather a greater share of the region?

The Lamborghini partnership gives us strong visibility, despite the small quantity. We want to remain in the niche market. The Gulf region is very important market for us.

Excalibur Aventador S - Giallo Orion

  • Production: 88 pieces
  • Strap: Bi-material strap with black rubber base and black rubber-tech inlay, yellow stitching
  • Retail price: Dh680,000

We think the boldness is very much appreciated in the region. However, it won’t talk just to Lamborghini owners.

We had a good reception here and even in China. US will be a good market for us as well. We have some clients in the Gulf region that are looking for even more unique pieces.

How do you engage with the new generation of watch enthusiasts?

We have been accelerating our digital communications, especially in the last few years. We bring traditional press and TV and then about half the numbers are social media influencers (to events). Times are changing. Bloggers and digital contributors are important.

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Bridging the gap between lifestyle and performance with New Balance

Jay Asser 25/09/2017

New Balance’s name refers to arch support, but it now also appropriately sums up the brand’s identity between lifestyle and performance.

Once known solely as a running brand, New Balance has morphed into a multi-dimensional entity whose roots have spread far and wide to encompass more than just sport.

Fashion has become more of a priority as the brand seeks to offer something for everyone, with the GCC especially targeted for its potential, which is why the opening of its newest store in Dubai Mall Sunday is telling of both where New Balance see themselves today and of where they want to go.

While New Balance already had nine stores previously positioned in the GCC – five in the UAE, two in Saudi Arabia and two in Qatar – the new Dubai Mall location offers the brand a face for retail in the region.

Located near the main entrance and by the aquarium, the relatively compact store holds premium real estate in one of the world’s premier shopping locations.

“This is really a statement for the brand and its expansion,” Stuart Henwood, country manager of New Balance Middle East and India, told Sport360°.

“We’ve now been in operation for around 18 months, building the brand in the GCC and opening up stores in various locations, but Dubai Mall is really the epicentre of where retail is in the GCC.

“Eighty-plus million people walked through that mall last year and really looking at the consumer mix in the region, with Saudi Arabia and consumers across the Gulf, it’s really a flagship location with where we’re positioned in the mall.

“We’re close to the entrance and that’s really a statement of intent of what the brand is doing from an investment standpoint in the region. It’s to say ‘We are here, we’re a brand that’s been existing for a long, long time and we’re really here to build the brand in a really strong way in the Gulf.’”

If New Balance’s intent with the Dubai Mall store was to signal their presence, it was surely felt yesterday at the official opening. Mall goers’ curiosity was piqued as a large contingent surrounded the shop and pushed to get inside.

It may have just been a herd mentality, but whatever the reason, New Balance surely won’t mind attracting passersby if it means drawing eyeballs to their range of products.

And those products are given equal footing – pun intended – in the store, with one wall dedicated to New Balance’s roots of running and another featuring lifestyle footwear.

On the running wall, the words ‘fast’, ‘far’ and ‘style’ are prominently displayed above the shoe display, which Henwood describes as a new way for the brand to communicate to consumers. It’s also a reminder that while efforts on the lifestyle side have been ramped up, the performance of the running products hasn’t been taken for granted.

The opposite wall is covered with New Balance’s core lifestyle shoes – the 996, the 574 and the 247 – in a clear effort to show how far the brand has come in that regard.

And in the back of the space, extending to the ceiling, is a curved digital screen that adds a unique touch and life to the store.

“We’ve taken inspiration from only one or two select locations from around the globe,” said Henwood. “One of those was Japan, where we’ve seen the sport consumer really evolve and that’s been a true testament to where we see ourselves today.

“There’s also a very unique curved digital screen that is in the store that’s been executed nowhere else globally within New Balance stores. We’ve given it the importance as a flagship location globally and the demographic of consumer we’ve been able to fit in to this store with some unique elements while taking some inspiration from Japan and also Europe.”

Japan, and Asia as a whole, has been a successful region for New Balance’s growth. While the brand’s origins are in North America, specifically Boston, the East has yielded fruitful dividends.

But while Europe and Asia are mostly saturated markets, Henwood views the GCC as emerging and untapped. The multi-cultural nature of the region, namely in the UAE, has attracted New Balance, but so has the sneaker consumer.

“We saw an opportunity in the region that we just didn’t play in before,” Henwood said. “Our
aspiration is to be a top-three global athletic brand and so we have to be in these emerging markets. We’ve been surprised in a very positive way in the last 18 months at not only our sales, but also people’s affiliation with the brand.

“Where we’ve seen the ball flung in this market is certainly on what we call ‘sports style’. It’s using the performance technology in the mid-sole, fused with a more classical style uppers. That’s really where the UAE and Qatar markets are.

“If I look more into Saudi Arabia, it’s more on the performance side and that’s been reflected in our sales. Also globally, if you look at other brands and where they’ve had great success, is in that performance bottom with that comfort and everyday use, but also people want to be seen with some stylish and classical products.”

New Balance’s focus on football in Saudi Arabia has already netted them a kit partnership with Al Nassr FC, one of the biggest clubs in the Kingdom. That union was largely made possible by New Balance’s record-breaking £300 million (Dh1.4bn) kit deal with Liverpool back in 2015.

That exposure has resulted in what Henwood calls “cross-category selling”, in which the brand can market to consumers, whether they’re football customers, running customers or just looking for a comfortable pair of shoes.

More deals like the one with Al Nassr appear to be on the way for New Balance in the GCC. Henwood anticipates further strategic partnerships with athletic clubs, federations and on the lifestyle side, with key signings that will be announced soon.

Outside of retail, Henwood has also placed an importance on signing more wholesale partnerships and building foundations with the likes of Foot Locker, Go Sport and others to ensure New Balance can reach the greatest amount of consumers possible.

And, of course, many more stores are planned to open across the region, with Henwood pegging it around 50 by 2020.

“It’s really building a structure here in the Gulf and we’re going to branch out into those other markets,” he said.

“We have huge ambitions. It’s the full 360. It’s not just about retail store, it’s about getting all that together and delivering a service to the customers in which I believe there is a gap in the market here.”

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Business of Sport: ASICS tread own path to get ahead

Denzil Pinto 28/03/2017
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Gael force: French tennis star Monfils is one of ASICS’ most visible ambassadors.

Given their pledge is to always “bring harmony to the body and soul”, of their customers, ASICS certainly stayed true to their words when they opened their new subsidiary in the UAE earlier this month.

There was a distinct atmosphere, helped by the sound of catchy music, as more than 120 guests got a close look at their new Dubai Design District showroom.

For the Japanese sports manufacturer, it was no ordinary occasion. This was something big and just the start of ASICS pushing themselves ahead of their competitors in their bid of claiming a bigger slice of the market in the Middle East.

Since founder Kihachiro Onitsuka first started making basketball shoes in 1949, ASICS have come a long way and are now not only one of the most famous names globally but considered among the best running brands. The company already find themselves in a strong position in the UAE.

At any major shopping mall in the country, you’re most likely to find one of their branded stores, while local retailers like Modell’s, Go Sport, Foot Locker and Stadium, present more opportunities for consumers to purchase merchandise.

With major rivals continuing to push in such a competitive market, ASICS have decided to go alone and take matters into their own hands by replacing distributor Falaknaz, who had played a role in their success since 2003.

It means ASICS will now take charge of their own distribution, sales and marketing plans in bringing more success to their business, which already has more than 100 stores across the region.

It might well be more expensive than working with a distributor but the advantages are huge, giving them further room to expand their footprint in the region, while reinforcing their premium positioning.

They plan to increase their marketing investment, using up to 20 per cent of their budget, while also developing direct relationships with key retailers.

It’s part of their vision in not only bringing innovative products to the the market but offering consumers a “premium and unique retail experience.”

For Alistair Cameron, CEO of ASICS Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), this step is a “new beginning”. “We are a $3.5 billion company and are big in America, Europe and Asia,” he said.

“With this in mind, it’s really important that we can articulate the benefits of the ASICS brand. Although we have been in the region for some time, our brand positioning globally as the No1 running brand hasn’t yet been discovered to its full extent in this region.

“Our distributor has done a really good job and helped us establish ourselves. But for us, for them to significantly invest at a level on what we want, is a tall order, and so that’s why we have come in and done it ourselves.”

While financial figures for 2016 are yet to be released, the move comes after profits for 2015 fell by approximately $80 million, more than 50 per cent than 2014. It was the first time since 2011 they saw such a decline.

With that now in the past, they are looking to the future and Cameron remains optimistic this region can become as valuable as Europe, Asia and America. “The UAE and Saudi Arabia will be the big markets for us,” he said.

“To maximise our opportunity, we will continue using premium retailers like GO Sport. But we will also be driving a much stronger premium level of presentation of all our products, including accessories, which will involve a lot of technical training.”

To ensure that consumers purchase products that are best suited to their needs, they plan to introduce more of their ASICS Foot ID systems in partner stores which have been rolled out in the US and Europe.

The high-tech shoe selection service combines static and dynamic measurement and analyses your movements to determine the right shoe for you.

With that now in place in certain countries, as well as the high volume of sales and the fine detail to research put in by scientists in Kobe, Japan, it’s easy to see why their footwear still remains their biggest seller with 346,080 million Japanese Yen ($311m) in net sales in 2014.

“In terms of running, we are the No1 global running brand,” declares Cameron. “At most businesses, there will be big volume for the lowest priced products but at ASICS it’s the other way round.

Our most expensive products does the volume for us and that’s because our science and technology is far superior than anyone else.

“Here in his region, while we want to extend our business to more branded stores, there will be more need for sales staff to be trained and well-equipped to sell and handle technical products.”

Their cause of hopefully seeing positive results in the future is helped given the importance of health and fitness. In the UAE, the facilities are second to none while Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s sporting calendar is packed with countless events throughout the season.

“With the world moving, there’s a switch in society and we’re seeing that health and movement is becoming important for people,” adds Cameron.

“Particularly, if you take Saudi Arabia, where there are high obesity levels, there are a lot of initiatives for authorities to invest in gyms and get people moving. It’s a major territory to grow.”

While sales is key to growth, so too is sponsorship and their multiyear partnership with athletics governing body IAAF is another indication of how they’re reaching out to global audiences.

The deal, which saw them replace adidas, who ended their agreement three years early, will not just see their logo on display around the stadium but will also see all IAAF officials kitted in ASICS apparel in all of the World Athletics Series meets as well as the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships in London and Doha, respectively.

“If you take London, there will be 80,000 spectators every day over a 10-day period,” said Cameron. “After London it will be held in Doha in 2019 and that is a massive investment for us in this region and for us it will be how we can maximise that opportunity.”

Despite being the top-ranked brand for runners, that hasn’t stop them from exploring other sports. On their books are players in tennis, triathlon and volleyball as well as interest in cricket and rugby.

World No11 Gael Monfils of France, 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia, and British world No11 Johanna Konta are among their tennis ambassadors.

Rio Olympic gold medallist and two-time world triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen of USA also put pen to paper. Ambassadors are paramount to the company.

They visit Kobe to ensure their apparel is up to their exact standard, while giving ASICS crucial feedback that allows them to enhance their products. And it isn’t just their results that attract ASICS. “We are really careful that they fit the brand,” said Cameron.

“It’s really difficult in today’s world to find a personality who is humble and would want to work with you and be inspired by what you do. “Gael has really helped us by helping testing products and everyone’s a great ambassador.

“We’re always on the lookout and it’s a competitive game.”

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