Prestons has relocated its Rolex boutique in Leeds from the open air pedestrianised Commercial Street to the city’s Victoria Gate luxury indoor mall anchored by John Lewis, which opened in 2016.
Prestons has had a Rolex store on Commercial Street for seven years, and the neighbouring units are all now taken by jewellers selling premium watches.
Paradoxically, the way other watch brands crowded into Commercial Street was one of the triggers for Prestons to move, according to the company’s managing director Karl Massey.
“Commercial Street has multiple retailers including H. Samuel, Ernest Jones and Beaverbrooks who know their mass market, Chisholm Hunter is moving in there too and you have Berry’s offering their various brands. It is a destination for watch shopping, but when we opened the unit in 2012, we were the only boutique. Since then we have had Omega open to our left, TAG Heuer to our right, Longines over the road, Breitling down one door, and all the other watches in the multibrand windows.
“We have been very happy in Commercial Street, but we started looking at relocating last year because the street had changed. It has been a magnet for jewellery and watch customers but had become quite crowded with other brands,” he tells WatchPro in this month’s Big Interview.
“We wanted somewhere more selective and we got the opportunity to move into Victoria Gate because Aspinal had taken on a unit that was a little too big for them and they wanted to move out. We found out about that and we took their lease over along with the unit behind theirs to make it a little larger,” he describes.
Victoria Gate is at the Eastern edge of the central shopping district of Leeds. Footfall is likely to be much lower than on Commercial Street, but could also be more affluent. “We felt it was time to move somewhere a little more upmarket for Rolex,” Mr Massey states.
Prestons has retained its unit on Commercial Street, and is converting it into a boutique selling jewellery alongside pre-owned watches.