Tracking the historic performance of Audemars Piguet in the UK is not straightforward because control shifted from its long term distribution partner Time Products in 2016 to the company trading as Audemars Piguet (UK) Limited, which now handles 100% of the brand’s wholesale business.
2018 accounts probably give the first reliable picture of the brand’s performance in the UK in a way that can be compared to competitors like Rolex and Patek Philippe, which both operate their wholesale business through wholly-owned UK-based subsidiaries.
It is also an opportunity to assess how Audemars Piguet in the UK in comparison to the rest of the world.
Sales for Audemars Piguet (UK) Limited rose by 26% in 2018 to £27.5 million and operating profit dipped to £668,362, due mainly to a rise in the cost of the company’s 13 staff.
Audemars Piguet will consider 2018 to be a year of consolidation before a great leap forward in 2019. The company opened a monobrand boutique in London’s Knightsbridge as a joint venture with French luxury jeweller Arije (pictured top) and is imminently opening a directly owned and operated showroom on London’s Bond Street.
That will be the first AP House in the UK, a concept where the store becomes more of a luxurious apartment with a bar, dining room and lounge providing an environment to talk watches and shop.
Turnover of £27.5 million will not place Audemars Piguet in the top 10 watch businesses in the UK, according to WatchPro’s analysis of accounts filed at Companies House.
The most recent accounts for Breitling, which is number 10 on the list, show sales in 2017-18 of £40 million.
Patek Philippe sales in the year to January 2019 were £163 million.
The gap to Patek Philippe in the UK shows the growth potential for Audemars Piguet, a brand that makes one of the world’s most coveted watches in the Royal Oak.
Globally, Audemars Piguet is only just behind Patek Philippe. AP’s turnover in 2018 was CHF1.03 billion, according to a research paper by investment bank Morgan Stanley. Patek Philippe’s turnover was CHF1.35 billion, according to the same report.
AP’s UK turnover was around 2.7% of global sales for its parent company. This compares to the UK market as a whole accounting for almost 6% of all Swiss watch exports.