Seiko UK Ltd recorded a 3.5% rise in like-for-like sales for the financial year ending March 31, 2020.
Turnover rose from £43.2 million to £44.7 million for the company, which includes sales from the UK, Ireland, Germany and Eastern Europe.
The 2020 financial year no longer includes sales of Pulsar and Ted Baker watches, which Seiko UK Ltd stopped distributing last year.
David Edwards, managing director for Seiko UK, said that sales growth of 3.5% was notable given the trimming of the portfolio and the start of a downturn from the looming Covid-19 pandemic in March.
“Covid and the likely UK lock-downs had become a very real talking point in the UK well before the end of March, and as a result there was undoubtedly caution in the market at both retailer and consumer level. Certainly, our own boutique in Knightsbridge experienced this really from mid-March and we had started to see our various retail partners exercise buying caution much earlier than that,” Mr Edwards told WatchPro this week.
Operating profit for FY2020 rose by more than 50% from £818,000 to £1,251,000, an important improvement in the company’s balance sheet ahead of this year’s challenges.
Distribution and retail shut down for Seiko UK on March 22, but its warehouse was open again by mid-April. The majority of staff were furloughed, but Seiko topped up their salaries from April through to June.
Business has proved remarkably robust during lock down, according to Mr Edwards. “We were pleasantly surprised by how many retailers were demanding stock because they were still selling online,” Mr Edwards reveals.
Restocking picked up in May and June as stores prepared to reopen. “We were trading close to normal levels by May/June,” according to Mr Edwards.
Grand Seiko has been growing in importance and contribution to Seiko UK, and benefited through lock down because authorised dealers were given permission to sell online for the first time in early April.
Grand Seiko’s boutique in London’s Knightsbridge reopened in June and, from this week, has a new manager. Paul Gray joined the business from Bremont, where he ran the watchmaker’s City of London showroom in the Royal Exchange.
“I am looking forward to be joining one of the leading in-house watchmakers in the world, and in my opinion, selling one of the best watch movement’s in the world, the Hi-Beat Grand Seiko,” says Mr Gray.