By Michelle Graff
Paramus, N.J.--Movado Group soon will be entering the world of wearables and, like a number of other watch companies, has been raising prices recently, the company said Wednesday.

In commenting on a the company’s first quarter performance, Chairman and CEO Efraim Grinberg said that he was “pleased with (the company’s) start to the year,” and believed that Movado was “well-positioned for success as we continue to innovate our product assortments, invest in our global infrastructure, prepare for our wearable technology launch and drive gross margin improvement through selective price increases.”

It’s been no secret that Movado, a Paramus, N.J.-based watch company whose lines include Movado, Concord and Ebel as well as fashion brands like Hugo Boss, Coach and Tommy Hilfiger, has been exploring the introduction of a “smart” device. At the end of 2014, the company hired Apple vet Jo An Lawson as its general manager of wearable devices, a new position.

If and when Movado puts a smart device on the market they’ll join the likes of TAG Heuer, which is partnering with Intel and Google on a smartwatch to be released later this year, and IWC in trying to compete with Apple Watch in the smart space. 

Also like other watch companies, Movado Group has been raising prices and streamlining its operations to improve its gross margins amid slow growth in the watch sector and currency fluctuations.

Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Rick Coté said Wednesday that the company did well in the first quarter despite a “weaker retail environment” and the impact of dramatic foreign exchange rate changes in both the euro and the Swiss franc.

Net sales in the first quarter essentially were flat at $120.5 million compared with $120.9 million in the first quarter of last year. However, on a constant dollar basis (excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates), net sales increased 5 percent year-over-year.

The company reported a 5 percent increase in its wholesale business in the United States while international wholesale sales were up 6 percent.

Gross margins dropped from 53.9 percent to 51.8 percent. Net income fell by half, from $7.4 million to $3.6 million.

Movado said it is maintaining its guidance for both sales and net income for the fiscal year, as it doesn’t anticipate any more significant fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

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