EXCLUSIVE: Berry’s set to double size of flagship Leeds boutique

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Berry’s, one of the biggest independent luxury watch retailers outside London, is doubling the size of its flagship store in Leeds.

In an interview to be published in the March edition of WatchPro, Berry’s managing director Simon Walton revealed that the current shop on Albion Street will shut for the refit in May, and is expected to re-open in September.

Berry’s has three boutiques in Leeds, and six more around the country including Newcastle, Nottingham, Hull, York and Windsor. Patek Philippe is an anchor brand in six of the nine stores.

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The parent company of Berry’s, Berens & Company, also owns Owen & Robinson, just around the corner from Albion Street in Leeds, which is an agent for Richard Mille, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet and A. Lange & Sohne.

Berry’s owns most of its properties, including the Albion Street store and the neighbouring unit, which it previously rented to Carphone Warehouse.

When the two stores are knocked through, half of the space will devoted to fine jewellery, and the remainder to watches (see artists impression above).

A dedicated Patek Philippe boutique will be created with part of the watch space. Other brands are negotiating for placement.

“Right now there is a battle among the various watch brands we sell because they all want the best space. They want two more square inches than everybody else,” Mr Walton describes.

Berry’s wants to be known as the best luxury watch retailer outside of London, and to put Leeds on the map as a destination for enthusiasts and collectors.

“Doubling the size of this shop will make it one of the dominant shops in Leeds and one of the largest outside London. We are trying to make a statement about Leeds and a statement about Berry’s,” Mr Walton says.

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If you haven’t visited Leeds recently, you really should. The city centre has been transformed over the past 20 years with the redevelopment of the Victorian Quarter into a historic boutique shopping mall and the creation of Victoria Gate, home to a massive John Lewis. The more contemporary Trinity Leeds houses all the major retail and food chains pulls in punters from all over the North East. Perhaps the greatest catalyst for the creation of the this city centre shopping paradise was the opening of Harvey Nichols, the first outside London, in 1996.

For luxury watch enthusiasts, Leeds should be considered alongside Glasgow and Manchester as a destination city. Commercial Street, a pedestrianised thoroughfare in the heart of the city centre is like a mini Bond Street with Beaverbrooks, Goldsmiths, Berry’s and Prestons battling for customers with branded boutiques for Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Tudor and Breitling.

Owen & Robinson, which is owned by the same parent company as Berry’s is the only agent for Richard Mille and A. Lange & Sohne outside London. Jura Watches, from the same group as CW Sellors, has a store in the Victorian Quarter selling an eclectic mix of independent luxury brands including Ball, Dietrich and Meistersinger.

Pre-owned specialist Watchfinder also has a boutique in the Victorian Quarter, selling fully serviced models from all the top Swiss names.

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