Fossil mines the watch business while digging a niche 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 150 countries, as well as online and at more than 600 company-owned stores in the US and abroad. Its products are also sold on cruise ships and in airports.
Fossil's wholesale business accounts for more than 80% of its sales, while 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 150 company-owned stores and 140 outlets located in malls. Internationally, the company operates about 200 retail shops and more than 100 outlet stores.
The company reports its operations along geographic lines.
Texas-based Fossil has about 300 stores under a variety of formats and banners (Fossil, Watch Station, and SKAGEN) across North America, which accounts for nearly half of the company's total sales. Another 300 stores are located outside of North America. Fossil has warehouses and distribution centers in the US (Texas), Germany, and Hong Kong. It sells its products in about 150 countries worldwide.
Sales and Marketing
Fossil's advertising costs were approximately $232.7 million, $205.6 million, and $185.1 million for fiscal years 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Fast-growing Fossil's sales increased 8% in 2014 versus 2013, after rising 14% in the previous annual comparison as part of a multi-year trend. Strong wholesale revenue in Europe and Asia drove the higher numbers. Increased expenses caused net income to remain flat.
Fossil attributes its rising fortunes 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. In 2014 it launched Emporio Armani Swiss Made and Tory Burch brand watches. Fossil also formed a partnership with Intel to develop wearable technology for the fashion industry.
Fossil also has a licensing agreement with Kate Spade through 2025 and holds the exclusive rights to manufacture, market, and distribute a Kate Spade jewelry collection. Fossil's deal with retailing behemoth Wal-Mart has also given it an advantage. The deal, to design, make, and distribute watches for the retailer's private-label brand George, is largely responsible for the 40% increase in Fossil's mass market watch business.
Fossil is also aggressively expanding its store base. In 2014, the company added about 50 new stores to its global footprint, with plans for about 15 more in 2015. The company 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.
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.