Seiko snags Richard Mille and Swatch Group veteran as managing director

The Seiko boutique in London’s Knightsbridge is part of a broader strategy to expand in the luxury watch sector.

David Edwards has been confirmed as the new managing director of Seiko UK.

Mr Edwards has been a senior figure in the British watch industry for almost 20 years, first as a director at Swatch Group for six years. He left to set up his own distribution business, which was responsible for bringing Technomarine watches to the UK.

After a brief spell working with diamond jewellery giant Tolkowsy, he moved to Richard Mille EMEA, where he has worked for almost ten years, first as commercial director and more recently as managing director since 2015.

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Selecting Mr Edwards for its managing director could be seen as a wider strategy by Seiko UK to push deeper into the luxury market.

Seiko opened its first boutique in the UK in August, but rather than locate it in a major mall where thousands of customers might snap up sub-£200 quartz models, the company planted its flag in Knightsbridge, sandwiched between Harvey Nichols and Harrods on Britain’s most exclusive shopping street.

The positioning tells the industry everything it needs to know about Seiko’s ambitions this year and into the future. The Japanese giant is pushing upmarket with its latest Prospex sports watches, Presage mechanical dress watches nudging up to and beyond £1000 price tags. Higher still is Grand Seiko, which now operates as a wholly independent brand to Seiko.

Seiko’s UK business has been a remarkably consistent performer over recent years. Turnover has increased from £64.6 million in 2011-12 to £72.9 million in the year ended March 31 2017.

Profit has been equally stable in a range between £1.5 million and £2 million since 2011.

Seiko said that its UK subsidiary’s commercial performance has been boosted by better sales in Continental Europe in the 2016-17 financial year.

Turnover rose by 13% from £64.4 million to £72.9 million for the 12 months ending March 31, 2017.

However, the accounts for Seiko UK Limited state that the fastest growth for the business came from its operations on the Continent where it operates a retail outlet in Germany and subsidiaries in Netherlands and France.

Those sales, reported in sterling, rose as the value of the pound fell by over 20% following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Stripping out the European sales, UK turnover rose by 4%, the company reported.

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