Watches of Switzerland’s Sales Soar as Retailer Expands Into EU

Watches of Switzerland’s Sales Soar as Retailer Expands Into EU
The MB&F “HM10 Bulldog” ($108,000), one of the timepieces featured in Watches of Switzerland’s new marketing campaign. The retailer had a strong fiscal year, driven in part by sales of high-end watches.

Luxury watch sales were particularly strong for the retailer, with CEO Brian Duffy noting customers have “accumulated disposable wealth.”

London—Watches of Switzerland’s fiscal year 2021 sales soared as the retailer made up for COVID-19-induced store closures by ramping up its clienteling efforts and its virtual offerings.

U.K.-based Watches of Switzerland Group PLC reported Thursday that revenue for FY21 (ended May 2) reached £905.1 million ($1.25 billion), up 12 percent (13 percent at constant exchange rates) compared to FY20 and up 18 percent at constant exchange rates compared with FY19.

Luxury watches in particular were a strong category for the retailer, with sales growing 16 percent and accounting for 87 percent of total revenue. That’s an increase from 84 percent in the fiscal year 2020.

CEO Brian Duffy noted the luxury side of the watch business remains predominately supply-driven, with consumers snatching up popular brands and models faster than the watch companies can make them.

In the United States, Watches of Switzerland’s revenue grew 39 percent at constant exchange rates versus FY20 and was up 65 percent when compared with the fiscal year 2019.

The company said high conversion rates offset lower foot traffic in stores, and it’s having success with the just-refurbished Mayors stores, particularly in sales of higher-end jewelry.

Watches of Switzerland also acquired U.S.-based e-tailer Analog Shift to fortify its position in the vintage and pre-owned markets.

Watches of Switzerland entered the U.S. market in 2017. It currently has 30 stores here, including the Mayors stores, which it acquired from Birks in 2017. It had 22 stores at the end of the prior fiscal year.

The company plans to open new multi-brand stores at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey and in Cincinnati.

Also on Thursday, Watches of Switzerland, which currently has stores in both the U.S. and U.K., announced plans to expand into Europe.

The company said the EU market is “under-invested” and “under-potentialized.”

It will enter the market through acquisitions and the opening of mono-brand boutiques, with the plan of the EU accounting for between 5 and 8 percent of group revenue by the fiscal year 2026.

Looking ahead to FY2022, Watches of Switzerland said it expects revenue to grow between 16 and 21 percent, a forecast contingent on there being no more lockdowns in the U.S. or U.K. that impact its stores, or lockdowns in Switzerland that impact its supply.

CEO Duffy said sales have remained strong since the fiscal year-end.

“Our customer has accumulated disposable wealth, and our category is an attractive option,” he said.

“Our growth projections reflect our best estimate of future supply based on our past experience of investment and expansion.”

Source: nationaljeweler

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