RICARDO GUADALUPE, CEO OF HUBLOT - VISIONARY DISRUPTOR OF THE WATCH INDUSTRY
Ricardo Guadalupe, was appointed as CEO of Hublot in 2012. He succeeded Jean-Claude Biver, who took up the role of Chairman of the Board of Hublot. That transition in leadership marked an entire career in the Swiss watch industry, and 20 years of loyal collaboration with Jean-Claude Biver, with exceptional results attributable to this duo, such as the renaissance of Blancpain and the burgeoning development of Hublot, two brands which rival the greatest names in watchmaking.
Of Spanish descent, Ricardo Guadalupe was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland on 5th March 1965, where he grew up and spent his entire school career in this region known as the cradle of Swiss luxury watchmaking. After obtaining his school leaver's certificate, and already driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, he enrolled in a Swiss Business School before leaving for California in the United States to take a course at the University of Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1988, he was 22 years of age. With a degree and successful time spent in America behind him, he decided to return to Switzerland to start his professional career. Watchmaking was his profession of choice, a passion which had grown year on year since his earliest days in Neuchâtel.
He started as Product Manager at Bulgari. The company was already a major name, but in terms of its watchmaking activities, it was still a small organisation in Geneva. It was a dream opportunity to learn, to tackle every aspect of the business: creation, design, production, procurement, development of the distribution network, marketing… Taken together, these seven years gave him an understanding of the product, the traditional aspect of the profession, whilst developing an aesthetic sensibility for design and creation, essential for the "Italian touch". This allowed Ricardo Guadalupe to play a role in the development of the group's future activities and its strategic transfer Geneva to Neuchâtel.
In 1994, following a meeting with Jean-Claude Biver, which would be decisive for his future, the latter encouraged him to join Blancpain. The brand had been bought out two years earlier by the Swatch Group. Everything need to be rebuilt, to be returned to working order. The adventure promised to be an exciting one, and offered Ricardo Guadalupe a new opportunity to stimulate his entrepreneurial flair. The experience proved rewarding, particularly in terms of technical knowledge of Movements, their creation, development and production. This is a key aspect of the profession. It also marked the beginning of 20 years of collaboration and loyal friendship with Jean-Claude Biver. Appointed International Sales and Marketing Director of Blancpain in 1997, he left the company in 2001 after 8 years, with over a 100 million in turnover to his credit.
In 2001, boasting a range of different yet complementary experiences, and now able to implement high performance operating principles and working systems, he became an independent watchmaking consultant and was offered the chance to develop Léonard watches. He faced a new challenge: the production and positioning of franchise watches. In a new world: fashion. He successfully led the launch and marketing of the various models in a highly competitive sector.
Three years later, in 2004, Jean-Claude Biver decided to take over the running of Hublot. He called Ricardo Guadalupe to come and join him in this new challenge. The task set was ambitious: in short, to revitalise this brand and redevelop it to switch from producing 90% quartz watches to producing 90% mechanical watches. He did not hesitate for a second. At the time, the brand created in 1980 only had a turnover of 25 million Swiss francs and a small workforce of around thirty people. What happened next is rather better known: Jean-Claude Biver and he combined their expertise and their talent to make a success of Hublot.
In the space of just one year, in April 2005 in fact, they pulled off the incredible feat of launching a revolutionary chronograph: the Big Bang, perfectly in line with the brand's “art of fusion” concept. Unveiled at BaselWorld 2005 and awarded the “Best Design of the Year” at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie event in Geneva that same year, the watch was an immediate success. The awards came thick and fast. Hublot was injected with an extraordinary dynamism, guaranteeing exceptional growth. Jean-Claude Biver and Ricardo Guadalupe were truly the forces behind the rebirth of this brand. In fact, one might say "birth" considering their achievements: firstly, the company's economic growth, with turnover increasing in four years from 25 million to more than 200 million Swiss francs in 2008, when the brand was sold to LVMH.
There has been physical growth too, with the inauguration in November 2009, attended by Bernard Arnault, of a new high- tech manufacture on the banks of Lake Geneva in Nyon. 6000 m2 dedicated to the watchmaker's art, to the development, creation and production of movements such as the UNICO, a column-wheel chronograph, and major watch complications such as tourbillons, minute repeaters, the Antikythera movement, the Key of Time movement, the LaFerrari (world record with 50 days of power reserve) etc. Keen to keep Hublot at the forefront of research into the latest high-tech materials and to preserve its cutting-edge expertise, the company installed a foundry to produce Magic Gold, a scratch-resistant 18-carat gold launched at the end of 2011. That same year, Hublot bought the Swiss company Profusion, which specialises in the manufacture of carbon fibre components. In 2013, Hublot also presented the World Premiere of a watch made with bright red ceramic.
In 2015, Hublot extended its manufacture to 14 000 m² with the inauguration of a second building, near the first one. This extension is highly symbolic for the brand—it bears witness to its expansion and its success. The Nyon architectural firm Coreta has added 8,000 m² of surface where Hublot installed 100 workstations over the next 3 years. This will give the company a workforce of over 400 people in Switzerland. The project represents an investment of 20 million Swiss francs for the company.
In 2016, Hublot celebrated the UEFA EURO 2016TM with football legends such as Pelé, Maradona to name only two of them, in France during one month of competition. 2016 was also the 10th anniversary of the All Black concept invented by Hublot in 2006, celebrated first in New York in the occasion of the flagship opening situated on the iconic 5th Avenue, in the presence of Usain Bolt and Pelé.
In terms of marketing, Jean Claude Biver and Ricardo Guadalupe's constancy and consistency are just as remarkable as his need to keep turning received ideas on their head, as illustrated by his strategy: "Go where potential customers can be found". This approach made him the first to integrate a luxury brand into the world of football. In 2008, Hublot became the "Official Timekeeper" of the EURO Championship. In 2010, the brand became the historic first "Official Watch" and "Official Timekeeper" for FIFA and the World Cup™, just after having been chosen as the “"Official Watch" and "Official Timekeeper" of Ferrari. These two masterstrokes gave Hublot exceptional visibility on a global scale.
Hublot has also created an exclusive club of friends and ambassadors who go beyond sport, all real living legends in their field, with whom the brand works hand in hand on several charity projects: The fastest man on the planet Usain Bolt, Bayern of Munich, Juventus of Turin and Chelsea FC to name just a few in the field of football, Ayrton Senna’s family with Instituto Ayrton Senna, the prestigious Oceanographic Museum of Monaco presided over by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Dwyane Wade and the NBA Champion Miami Heat, Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers from the NBA, Maria Riesch and Dario Cologna in skiing, Depeche Mode and Jay-Z in the music field. The brand also supports polo and golf through competitions "Because the connection is all about sharing. If you don't share, you miss out. Hublot has been fortunate and has a duty to share some of its success".
With Jean-Claude Biver and Ricardo Guadalupe still at the helm, Hublot is also the first luxury brand to have launched an online television service (Hublot TV) and to continually explore new revolutionary interactive showcases. Commercially, the network of exclusive boutiques and approved retailers has rocketed since 2007-2008 and now boasts 750 points of sale and more than 80 exclusive boutiques at some of the world's most prestigious addresses (Geneva, Place Vendôme in Paris, New York's 5th Avenue, Miami, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Cannes, Saint Tropez, London, Berlin, Munich, Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur, among others).
Anchored in the present and always evolving, at the forefront of new advances in technology and fundamental research into new materials, Hublot remains committed to traditional expertise, creating timepieces which bear the mark of the most talented master watchmakers. In this way, the brand represents the Art of Fusion between watchmaking culture and cutting-edge technical developments, between the past and the future… as, in the words of Hublot's Chairman Jean-Claude Biver and Hublot’s CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, "we are not breaking with the past, on the contrary we are paying homage to it by connecting it to the future".
Discover the Hublot collections: www.hublot.com