We have not seen a more substantial re-alignment of Rolex’s authorised dealer network in the UK since Ernest Jones lost the account in 2012.
Only seven Rolex doors have changed hands, but that spells the end of a relationship with Fraser Hart and the beginning of a new journey with Beaverbrooks.
As WatchPro reported last night, The Watches of Switzerland Group is acquiring four stores from Fraser Hart — all with Rolex — extending the group’s lead as the largest Rolex AD in the UK.
Beaverbrooks has bought three stores, in Cardiff, Croydon and Milton Keynes — again, all Rolex doors — signaling the end of Fraser Hart’s run with the brand, and enabling the group to focus on brands that it can sell across its entire network of stores and online such as IWC, Omega, Breitling, Tudor. Tag Heuer, Longines and Gucci.
Three stores may seem small beer, but the significance could not be greater for Beaverbrooks, a family owned retail group celebrating its centenary this year.
Under the joint leadership of chairman Mark Adlestone OBE and managing director Anna Blackburn, the group has found a new level of success.
Ms Blackburn has been with Beaverbrooks for over 20 years, beginning her career as a shop floor salesperson in Manchester before working her way up through the ranks to become chief executive in 2013. In her first four years as CEO, turnover increased by around 20% and, more significantly, operating profit has doubled.
She was rewarded for her contribution by joining the board of directors of the family-owned multiple in January 2018.
It would be simple to say that Ms Blackburn and Mr Adlestone are the head and heart of Beaverbrooks. That would be wrong. They are both as committed to maintaining Beaverbrooks as one of the best companies to work for in the UK, and they both support the company’s extraordinary generosity to funding and supporting charities.
Equally, they make hard-nosed business decisions together, the most transformative of which was driving decision-making and responsibility deeper into the store network and trusting regional teams to deliver results and focus on their profit contribution.
Respect is not reserved solely for the Beaverbrooks team, every supplier we speak to is quick to sing the praises of the professionalism, consistency and fairness of dealing with the retailer.
Customers also appear to be delighted. The company has a 98% positive rating on Google Reviews.
Like most retailers with the resources of Beaverbrooks, the business has been stalking Rolex patiently for decades.
When WatchPro asked Ms Blackburn in 2017 how she felt about life without Rolex and Patek Philippe, she replied: “Absolutely, we are missing out. But my read on this is that, yes, we would love to have those brands, of course we would. But look at our performance without them. Imagine how good we’d have been with them. We have done a bloody good job.”
We are about to find out how good Beaverbrooks will be with Rolex.