Fossil digs the watch business while unearthing a place in accessory and apparel sales. A leading seller of mid-priced fashion watches in the US, its brands include company-owned Fossil and Relic watches, as well as licensed names Armani, Michael Kors, adidas, Burberry, and Marc Jacobs, and private-label watches for Target and Wal-Mart. Fossil also distributes fashion accessories, such as leather goods, handbags, sunglasses, and apparel. The company peddles its products through department stores, mass merchandisers, and specialty shops in some 130 countries, as well as online and at more than 470 company-owned stores in the US and abroad. Its products are also sold on cruise ships and in airports.
Fossil has about 245 stores under a variety of formats and banners (Fossil, Watch Station, and now SKAGEN) across North America, which accounts for nearly half of the company's total sales. Another 225 stores are located outside of North America. Fossil has warehouses and distribution centers in Texas, Germany, and Hong Kong.
Fossil's wholesale business accounts for three-quarters of its sales, with its direct-to-consumer business (company-owned retail stores and e-commerce) brings in the rest. The company's wholesale customers include: major department store chains, including Dillard's, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue; discounters Wal-Mart and Target. Its US retail arm operates about 130 company-owned stores and 95 outlets located in malls. Internationally the company operates about 185 retail shops and 60-plus outlet stores.
Fast-growing Fossil's sales increased 11% in 2012 vs. 2011, to nearly $2.9 billion, a record for the company. Indeed, Fossil's sales have grown 85% over the past three years, while net income has more than doubled. The double-digit sales growth was largely driven by the acquisition of Skagen Designs in spring 2012 and organic growth in watch sales, as consumers spent more on fashion watches. Sales of leather goods were also strong at Fossil's growing store base. Direct to consumer sales, which include company-owned stores and e-commerce, rose 18%, outpacing growth on the wholesale side of the business, up 9%.
Fossil attributes its rising sales and profitability to the stronger global economy, the upward trend in fashion watches, and its keen focus on design. A handful of licensed brands (including Michael Kors), as well as Fossil and Michele, have been strong contributors to sales growth. Fossil is also aggressively expanding its store base. In 2012, the company added about 75 new stores to its global footprint. Fossil is focusing its efforts outside the US to sell its full-price accessories. Building on the Fossil brand name, the company also markets wallets, handbags, and belts.
Fossil also has a licensing agreement with Diesel through 2015 and holds the exclusive rights to manufacture, market, and distribute a Diesel jewelry collection. A move that has placed Fossil at a noteworthy advantage is its deal with retailing behemoth Wal-Mart to design, make, and distribute watches for the retailer's private-label brand George. The company's mass market watch business increased about 40% soon thereafter, more or less attributable to this partnership.
Like rivals Swatch and Guess?, Fossil has typically targeted those in their teens, 20s, and 30s, i.e., those hip to the latest trends. But Fossil's target audience has broadened to include those who will drop some big green for some bling. While the majority of Fossil's products are priced from $50 to $600, the company entered the luxury products niche when it acquired Tempus International, which does business as Michele Watches, for about $50 million. (Some Michele watches sell for thousands of dollars.) The subsidiary launched Michele Jewelry, a collection of 18-karat gold pieces that are sold at Neiman Marcus stores nationwide. Fossil also sells a vintage-inspired summer clothing collection -- called Vintage Expedition -- in stores in Germany and the UK.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Fossil has inked several deals that have given the company traction for long-term growth. The accessories maker kicked off 2012 expanding its brands portfolio and strengthening its foothold abroad. Fossil purchased Skagen Designs, a Nevada-based manufacturer and distributor of sleek Danish-style watches, jewelry, sunglasses, and clocks. The nearly $232 million cash-and-stock deal brings with it Skagen's international and regional offices in Denmark, Hong Kong, Germany, the UK, and Canada.
CEO Kosta Kartsotis owns about 10% of Fossil's common stock. Investment firms FMR LLC and T. Rowe Price Associates own about 15% and 10% of the shares, respectively.