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US businessman buys Swiss luxury watch maker Corum

A United States businessman, Severin Wundermann, is taking over the Swiss luxury watch brand Corum, which is based in the western town of La Chaux-de-Fonds.

This content was published on January 7, 2000 - 16:28

A United States businessman, Severin Wundermann, is taking over the Swiss luxury watch brand Corum, which is based in the western town of La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Wundermann, who for the last 25 years has been at the head of Gucci Timepieces, has bought 90 per cent of the company in his own name for an undisclosed figure.

The remaining ten per cent will be held by the son of Corum's founder, Jean-René Bannwart. In a statement, the company said all 50 jobs would be maintained and the new owner wanted to give the brand "all the international aura that it deserves, based on tradition and know-how."

In 1999, Corum had a turnover of SFr30 million with a production of some 9,000 watches. The new owner is aiming to increase sales to around SFr200 million within the next five years. To achieve that, a new collection is currently being developed under the name Corum Boutique, to sell for between SFr1,000 and SFr2,500, much less than the current price range.

The present collections sell for between SFr3,000 and SFr20,000, although certain watches studded with precious stones go up to SFr2 million.

Corum is to strengthen its distribution network, particularly in key markets in the United States, Asia and Switzerland.

Perhaps the most renowned timepiece in Corum's collection is the "Admiral's Cup" model, associated with the international yachting race of the same name, which takes place every two years at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, England.

The 12-sided case, an unusual shape for a watch, features international maritime code flags used for visual signals between ships. These nautical hours correspond to the numbers 1 to 12.

The take-over of Corum comes at a time of big changes within the Swiss luxury watch segment. At the end of last year, the French luxury goods group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, LVMH, took over the TAG Heuer, Ebel and Zenith watch manufacturers. Switzerland's largest watchmaking concern, The Swatch Group, bought the Breguet company, adding that to Blancpain in its luxury sector.

By Robert Brookes.

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