The Watches of Switzerland Group is going public on the London Stock Exchange, the company announced ahead of today’s trading day.
It is the largest luxury watch retailer in the UK with a market share of 35%, according to the announcement.
Turnover was £746 million in the twelve months to 27 January 2019, including sales from 21 stores in the United States.
The group’s last published accounts at Companies House showed sales of just under £700 million for the 2017-18 financial year.
The Watches of Switzerland Group owns Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb, Watch Shop, Watches of Switzerland and the Watch Lab in the UK.
In the United States it has opened three multi-brand stores under the Watches of Switzerland name in Las Vegas and New York. It also owns Mayor’s in Florida, a major multiple with 18 stores, most of which have Rolex as an anchor brand.
Rolex has been central to the dramatic growth of The Watches of Switzerland Group in recent years and the partnership can be traced back 100 years to when Northern Goldsmiths, now owned by the group, became Rolex’s first authorised dealer in 1919.
Rolex is the largest luxury watch brand in the UK by sales in 2018 with a 41% market share, growing at an average 21% per year since 2014.
Watches of Switzerland Group operates 39% of all Rolex agencies and accounted for 50% of Rolex’s sales in the UK in 2018 and has been growing its Rolex business by an average of 28% between 2014 and 2018.
“I am incredibly proud of the transformation Watches of Switzerland Group has undergone over the last five years to become the UK’s leading luxury watch retailer and successfully enter the important US market. Today’s announcement signals the next stage in that journey, leveraging our scale, retail and e-commerce expertise, and strong stakeholder relationships to continue our profitable growth strategy,” says Brian Duffy, chief executive of The Watches of Switzerland Group.
“There are significant growth opportunities ahead of us, both in the UK and the US, many of which are already being realised. We have a proven track record, an experienced management team and strong brand support for our plans. At Watches of Switzerland Group we have the best teams in the business and credit for our success goes to them. We love what we do and I am very excited for what lies ahead and the opportunity to take our growth strategy to the public markets,” he adds.
Apollo Global Management, a New York-based private equity firm that has owned The Watches of Switzerland Group (formerly known as Aurum Holdings) since 2012, will retain a controlling stake in the business. Only 25% of the group’s shares are expected to be available in the initial public offering. An additional 15% could follow.
The group says that the IPO will raise money that can reduce its debts, raise its profile with customers suppliers and employees and improve its ability to recruit, retain and incentivise key management and employees.
It will also create a liquid market in the shares for existing and future shareholders.