In 2019, just months before the pandemic hit, Beaverbrooks bought two Fraser Hart stores, both Rolex accounts, in Milton Keynes and Croydon, south London.
Almost two years after those acquisitions, the two stores are about to reopen with a completely new name above the door: Loupe.
Loupe (the specialist magnifying glass used by watchmakers and jewellers) has been created as a completely different concept to the 72 existing Beaverbrooks stores, and customers will see no connection between the brands.
Only the back end systems and management teams will bridge the operations.
Including Whittles in Preston, which has been wholly owned by Beaverbrooks after it bought out retiring owner Joanna Valentine last November, the group now has three stores selling Rolex.
It is also opening a Tudor monobrand boutique in Sheffield later this year, WatchPro can exclusively reveal.
Rather than alter the position of Beaverbrooks as an aspirational mid-market high street jeweller, the decision was taken to create an entirely new store concept under the Loupe name.
The Milton Keynes flagship opens this month offering Rolex, Omega, Hublot and Zenith alongside an elevated jewellery offer.
The ribbon will be cut at the Croydon showroom later this summer.
Although Loupe will have familiar branded areas and furniture for the Swiss watch brands, the stores will be unique and distinct from other similarly positioned retailers thanks to the space devoted to fine jewellery.
“We see a huge opportunity to work with the watch brands and respect everything they stand for so we are using branded furniture for the watches. But a significant part of the store is about the Loupe jewellery brand we have developed. We are incredibly excited about this jewellery and how we have created a brand around it. Every piece we make has Loupe engraved or given an 18 carat gold Loupe tag. It is all 18 carat gold, all diamonds. No silver, no 9 carat, which is a big statement,” explains Anna Blackburn, Beaverbrooks managing director in WatchPro‘s Big Interview publishing in July.
“The average selling price for Loupe jewellery will be at least three or four times higher than at Beaverbrooks. We will have pieces selling for £12,000, £15,000. That is not what the typical Beaverbrooks customer is looking for,” she adds.
Loupe jewellery will sell alongside collections from Mikimoto, Gucci Fine Jewellery, Hearts on Fire and Royal Asscher diamonds.
Beaverbrooks is emerging from almost 18 months of covid-related restrictions with sales down by just 17% for the year to the end of February 2021.
Turnover is expected to be confirmed at around £119 million, down from £143 million in the 2019-20 financial year, Beaverbrooks chairman Mark Adelstone OBE reveals.
Operating profit dipped by 8% from £17 million to £15.6 million, leaving the 72-store jewellery and watch chain with its balance sheet virtually unscathed by the pandemic, although it was assisted by a number of covid-related support schemes from the government.
New look Loupe
Artist renderings of the new Loupe store show a bright, modern spacious store design where the emphasis will be on the experience and expert advice more than hard selling over counter tops.
Rolex will have its own showroom in prime position within the stores, with other watch brands also given dedicated space and branded furniture.
“We do not have a huge number of watch brands. In Milton Keynes we have Rolex, Omega, Hublot and Zenith. It is intentionally tightly curated so that we can give those luxury watch brands the right amount of space while maintaining the balance with our jewellery. It will be experiential. The products will have room around them. There is a feeling of space,” Ms Blackburn describes.