Fossil Group 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 Group 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 540 company-owned stores in the US and abroad. Its products are also sold on cruise ships and in airports.
Texas-based Fossil Group has about 275 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 270 stores are located outside of North America. Fossil Group has warehouses and distribution centers in Texas, Germany, and Hong Kong.
Fossil Group'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 125 company-owned stores and 120 outlets located in malls. Internationally, the company operates about 215 retail shops and more than 85 outlet stores.
Fast-growing Fossil Group's sales increased 14% in 2013 versus 2012, after rising 11% in the previous annual comparison. In 2013 the company rang up nearly $3.3 billion in sales, a record for Fossil. Net income also continued its steady climb by rising 10% to $378.2 million. The rise in sales and profits in 2013 was primarily driven by a 17% gain in watch sales across the global wholesale and direct-to-consumer businesses. Jewelry sales were also strong (up 26%), partially offset by a slight decline in sales of its leather goods. On a geographic basis the company posted double-digit sales gains in North America and Europe, Asia.
Fossil Group 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 Group 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 Group 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.
Fossil Group is also aggressively expanding its store base. In 2013, the company added about 70 new stores to its global footprint, with plans for as many as 80 more in 2014. Fossil Group 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 Group 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 Group'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 Group also sells a vintage-inspired summer clothing collection -- called Vintage Expedition -- in stores in Germany and the UK.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Fossil Group 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 Group 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 Group's common stock. Investment firms FMR LLC and T. Rowe Price Associates own about 15% and 10% of the shares, respectively.