There is something admirably egalitarian about Aurum Holdings. The parent company of Watches of Switzerland, purveyor of luxury brands ranging from Breitling to Patek Philippe, is just as committed to WatchShop, the online store for scores of sub-£500 fashion watch brands that it acquired last year.
It falls to Aurum CEO Brian Duffy to provide the leadership and management to successfully integrate businesses that range from Watches of Switzerland and Mappin & Webb, all the way through to Goldsmiths and WatchShop.
The trick, Brian suggests, is to treat each of the group’s businesses with equal pride. Asked to name his greatest success over the past year, he is split: “I have to mention two. First, the acquisition of WatchShop – great business and great people and we are delighted to have them in the Aurum Group. Secondly, the opening of Watches of Switzerland, 155 Regent Street, the world’s best luxury watch store. It is a big success and I feel very proud every time I walk in.”
Some CEOs might need to build Chinese walls between feuding factions of such diverse businesses, but Brian embraces the diversity. “The WatchShop acquisition takes us to the leadership position of watch retailing online. We also had a fantastic year with Goldsmiths online and almost doubled this business. The integration of the WatchShop team into Aurum has been a pleasure and a highly beneficial development for both teams,” he states.
All parts of the business are booming right now. Watches of Switzerland has just opened in Canary Wharf and Heathrow Terminal 5 with three more scheduled, while Goldsmiths is working through a programme of store refurbishments. At the same time Aurum is investing in Mappin & Webb stores, visual merchandising and has expanded on its jewellery collections. “Jewellery in Mappin & Webb had a great year,” Brian declares.