Berens & Company Ltd, the parent group of Leeds-based Berry’s and Owen & Robinson, has posted record sales and operating profits for the 2016-17 financial year that ended in June last year.
Sales rose by a third from £38.8 million to £51.5 million. Operating profit soared by 41.3% to hit £7.5 million.
Berry’s is now one of the country’s leading Patek Philippe partners with six out of eight doors offering the Swiss watch brand. Only Aurum Holdings has more with eight.
Had the financial results been published in time to be included in WatchPro’s State of the Nation’s Watch Retailers Top 10 report, Berry’s would have overtaken W R Ferris to take the tenth spot.
Berry’s does not have Central London locations, but did benefit from high spending tourists in Leeds, Windsor and York. “The weakened pound made Britain an increasingly attractive tourist destination following Brexit, which contributed to record sales, particularly across outlets in tourist destinations,” Berry’s managing director Simon Walton says. “Prestige watch sales were very strong across the group,” he adds.
Berry’s is not just an expert at retailing luxury watches and jewellery, it is also a shrewd investor in the financial markets to mitigate risks and maximise opportunities from currency fluctuations.
In accounts published at Companies House, Mr Walton says that the dramatic spike in operating profits was partly down to buying foreign currency before Brexit crashed the pound. “The increase in gross profit margin is the result of the benefit achieved through the advance purchase of euros and dollars,” he reveals.
A marginal shift in product mix toward jewellery also resulted in a small improvement in margins, Mr Walton adds.
Online sales increased in the financial year, and now account for 3.6% of the group’s turnover.
Most Swiss watch brands now allow Berry’s to sell online, although Patek Philippe does not. However, an omnichannel approach across web, social media and bricks and mortar stores is paying off. “Market research indicates that two thirds of luxury shoppers research prior to an in-store purchase and our branch indicators reveal a significant amount of in store sales were generated by online customers visiting the group’s websites prior to their in store shopping experience,” Mr Walton describes.
The company says this success has led to it creating a designated website department for the group. “We are investing in new technology and increasing staff capacity to accelerate sales and enhance the online shopping experience,” Mr Walton reveals.
Another major investment is the re-development of Berry’s flagship store on Albion Street in Leeds. £200,000 was invested in the first phase of this work in the 2016-17 financial year, but the expansion and renovation is continuing into 2018.
“The extensively renovated Berry’s store will double the capacity of retail space, showcasing both luxury watch brands and the finest collection of diamond jewellery,” Mr Walton promises.