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Art in Time abandons London opening due to change in VAT rules

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Art in Time is one of the most exclusive watch boutiques in Europe.

Located on Monaco’s Place du Casino, it is backed by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard and Ferdinand Berthoud, and specialises in high end independent watch brands including Akrivia, Urwerk, De Bethune and Ressence.

It was first reported in 2019 that Art in Time was scouting for a London location.

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A site had been found, but the owners decided to indefinitely suspend its plans, in part because of the UK withdrawing VAT rebates for overseas visitors.

“We found a location one year ago but we decided to stop our project due to covid and the cancellation of tax free shopping by UK authorities,” Art in Time manager Yohann Martinez tells WatchPro.

“If the law changes we will consider again,” he adds.

VAT rules changed on January 1 so that visitors from outside the European Union can no longer claim back the 20% tax they paid on luxury goods when they leave the country.

The change has been widely criticised, including by Watches of Switzerland Group CEO Brian Duffy. “We believe that the UK Government has misjudged the impact of removing tax-free shopping for tourists and we will continue to support all efforts to have this changed,” he wrote in a recent financial report.

Art in Time would have been a welcome addition to the UK luxury watch market because we have lost two specialists in independent watchmakers in the past three years.

Marcus, the Bond Street boutique owned by Marcus Margules, closed in 2019.

Last year William & Son fell into administration. The department store for the super rich was the only destination in the UK for watches from the likes of F.P. Journe, De Bethune, and Laurent Ferrier.

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