Movado Predicts Declining Sales Amid ‘Volatile’ Retail Environment

FinancialsMar 24, 2023

Movado Predicts Declining Sales Amid ‘Volatile’ Retail Environment

The watch company expects first-quarter sales to fall as much as 15 percent due to inflation and tough comps.

A set of Movado Connect 2.0 watches. The watch company’s net sales rose in the full fiscal year but fell in the fourth quarter.
Paramus, N.J.—Movado Group ended its fiscal year 2023 on a low note, with fourth-quarter sales slipping as rising prices affected customers in its two largest markets, the United States and Europe.

The New Jersey-based company’s full-year sales rose overall, though sales in the U.S. market fell.

Signet Jewelers and Brilliant Earth’s results followed a similar trajectory, with sales increasing for the year despite a dip in the fourth quarter.

“Over the course of fiscal 2023, we saw the effects of a U.S. consumer who is no longer benefiting from COVID-related stimulus programs, global headwinds from the war in Ukraine that began last March, growing inflationary pressures, and rising interest rates,” said CEO Efraim Grinberg on an earnings call Thursday morning.

Here are five takeaways from Movado’s recent earnings report.

Full-year sales were positive, while fourth-quarter sales slipped.

In the fourth quarter, net sales fell 6 percent year-over-year to $194.3 million, which Movado attributed to a decline in wholesale sales, somewhat offset by strong sales in Movado-owned stores.

Gross profit was $109.3 million, or 56 percent of net sales, compared with $120.8 million, or 59 percent of net sales in the previous fourth quarter.

The decline in gross margin was due to “unfavorable changes in channel and product mix” and the impact of foreign currency exchange rates, said Movado.

The full-year results paint a brighter picture, with net sales up 3 percent year-over-year to $751.9 million.

The sales boost was attributed to the growth of its international wholesale business and Movado-owned stores.

Gross profit was $433.9 million, or 58 percent of net sales, compared to gross profit of $419.1 million, or 57 percent of net sales, in fiscal 2022.

The increase was due to favorable changes in its channel and product mix, said Movado, though foreign currency exchange rates and rising shipping costs took a toll.

Its outlet stores faced “a more challenging environment in Q4,” said Grinberg, though that was somewhat offset by its digital channel.

Its brick-and-mortar sales were down 9 percent in the quarter and 2 percent for the year. Adding in its digital channel, sales were up 5 percent for the year and 3 percent for the quarter.

“Our financial results were highlighted by an increase in global net sales, strong gross margin performance, and operational discipline,” Chief Financial Officer Sallie DeMarsilis said on the call.

Its U.S. sales continue to struggle while international sales rise.

In the U.S., Movado’s quarterly sales were down 6 percent year-over-year, while full-year sales slipped 4 percent compared with fiscal 2022.

Its international performance was mixed, with net sales down 5 percent in the quarter but up 8 percent for the full year.

Its European sales struggled, particularly in Germany, the U.K., and France, as customers battled inflation and the fallout driven by the war in Ukraine, said Grinberg.

Strong performances in Latin America, the Middle East, India, and Australia partially offset the declines.

Movado previously predicted it would face challenges in the fourth quarter, particularly in the U.S. and Europe.

Grinberg said, “We believed we would continue to see a difficult consumer landscape in the U.S. and Europe, our two largest markets. Consumers pulled back on discretionary purchases as more of their disposable income was affected by inflationary pressures and they shifted spending toward other categories, like travel and restaurants.”

He added that the unsettled environment in the banking system may also “place increased pressures” on companies and consumers, citing higher interest rates and banks being more cautious about extending credit.

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Movado has newness ready for this spring in its in-house and licensed brands.

Movado’s brand portfolio includes its eponymous brand as well as in-house and licensed brands, like Coach and Tommy Hilfiger.

The Movado brand posted a single digit decline in sales for the full year, said Grinberg, up against strong growth in the prior year period.

For this spring, the brand will introduce a new addition to its “Bold” collection. “Bold Horizon” will be a slimmer, more refined style, said Grinberg, with prices starting at $695.

It will support the collection with a new TV commercial, and also produce new content for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Movado’s licensed brands posted a 3 percent decline for the quarter, but a 9 percent increase for the year.

The Tommy Hilfiger brand is introducing two new watches in “bolder and larger sizes,” said Grinberg, including the 46 mm “Lars” and the 50 mm “Wild,” a sporty offering with a tie-dyed strap.

It’ll introduce “Pippa” and “Norris” models to appeal to cost-conscious European shoppers. It also touted a partnership with European soccer player Thiago Alcântara.

Hugo Boss also will partner with a professional athlete, Italian tennis player Matteo Berrettini. The brand will also introduce new offerings below €300 ($325).

Lacoste is expanding its “L1212” line, adding aluminum versions in bright colors via the “L1212 Go” collection. There will also be increased marketing efforts in France around the French Open, since the brand is a major sponsor of the tennis event.

Coach added “Katy,” a smaller rectangular watch, and retro-inspired “Hidden Time.” The brand has seen an improved performance in China as the market reopened.

The Calvin Klein brand, launched under Movado last year, has received positive feedback from retailers and shoppers, said Movado.

The brand is introducing the “CK Sensation,” a “modern” watch starting at $160, and “CK Force” for men, a 45 mm sports watch starting at $190.

“We continue to believe CK has a tremendous global potential within the watch and jewelry space,” said Grinberg.

Its Olivia Burton brand introduced a new product assortment, starting with watches, though jewelry is slated to follow. Its new U.K. marketing program, “Postcards from London,” is designed to bolster the brand in its home market as it faces economic challenges.

The MVMT brand’s higher-priced watches are doing especially well.

“We are focused on a strategy that will build the brand to be less dependent upon customer acquisition, and more focused on building brand equity as we reinvigorate our brand message geared towards MVMT’s maverick consumer,” said Grinberg.

Some higher price point watches performed better than entry-level items.

MVMT wasn’t the only brand seeing its higher-priced watches sell well.

The Movado brand had “stronger results in our higher price points, and we were more challenged in our entry-level price points, which had been increased earlier in the year,” noted Grinberg.

Movado has the largest share in the $500 to $1,500 price point in the U.S., he said, and plans to build on that position, while also supporting its higher-end watches.

The Movado Alta models, priced around $4,000, performed well during the holiday season.

Though some shoppers still seek out expensive items, many consumers are looking for value as inflationary pressures weigh on wallets.

Still, Grinberg said he wasn’t concerned about markdown risk.

“I do believe the marketplace has been and will continue to be somewhat more promotional through this year as consumers are challenged with inflation,” he said.

“Sometimes we have to refill price points that we have vacated, still at very strong gross margins. That’s what we’re initiating throughout the year in both our licensed brands, and then in several families for Movado Bold.”

He added he does not expect the average unit retail (AUR), or the average selling price for an item, to increase this fiscal year.

“If we want to motivate consumers, you do have to offer them value and at every price point, but it still becomes more challenging to increase your AUR.”

Movado predicts declining sales in fiscal 2024.

“As we look into fiscal 2024, we remain cautious due to growing economic concern, overall weaker spending environment, and increasing interest rates and inflation,” said DeMarsilis.

Movado expects full-year net sales to be in the range of $725 million to $750 million.

Gross profit is forecast to be 56 percent of net sales while operating income may be in the range of $80 million to $85 million.

First-quarter net sales are expected to fall 12 to 15 percent year-over-year.

In the first half of the fiscal year, Movado expects sales to decline 9 to 12 percent year-over-year due to tough comps. It reported record first-half results in fiscal 2023.

“We believe we will continue to operate in a volatile economic retail and consumer environment in our largest markets, the U.S. and Europe. Despite this, we are focused on the opportunities,” said Grinberg.

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