Watchfinder loses long-running dispute with its business development partner

Watchfinder - Leeds

Watchfinder has drawn a line under a legal dispute with Adoreum, a London-based brand-building consultancy for luxury businesses.

The disagreement dates back to 2011, when Adoreum had been working with the pre-owned luxury watch specialist on business development and communications.

The Mayfair-based consultancy counts global luxury brands including Burberry fashion, Bentley automobiles, Veuve Cliquot champagne and Gemfields jewellery among its clients.

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Adoreum’s personal network reaches deep into the Swiss watchmaking community, and the company suggested to Watchfinder that it could introduce the Maidstone-based business to the top brass at Richemont.

Should that introduction lead to investment or a fruitful partnership,Watchfinder signed an option agreement with Adoreum that would allow them to acquire 5% of the business for just £150,000.

Nothing concrete came from contact with Richemont at that time, or since, but Adoreum believed it had done enough to satisfy the terms of the option agreement and demanded that Watchfinder sell the 5% for £150,000.

Watchfinder refused, and the issue turned into a legal dispute that began in 2013 and was resolved at the high court in London this week with a judge finding in favour of Adoreum, which will now become a 5% shareholder.

That 5%, costing just £150,000, looks like the bargain of the century. Watchfinder has grown rapidly over the past few years. Turnover was £39 million in 2014, rising to £61 million in 2015 and is expected to report sales of over £85 million in 2016 when accounts are filed. Net profit was over £3 million in 2015.

A spokesman for Watchfinder was sanguine about the outcome. “It was a commercial dispute. We lost,” he said.

“We have enjoyed working with the Adoreum team in the past and look forward to working with them again as shareholders,” he added.

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