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Soaring smartwatches sales transform business for Peers Hardy

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State-of-the-art smartwatches from the likes of Apple and Samsung have decimated the market for inexpensive quartz fashion watches over the past five years.

GfK figures show the retail value of sales for quartz watches priced at under £500 halving in the UK from £570,000 to £249,000 between 2015 and 2020.

Peers Hardy was turning over £35 million at its peak in 2016 as a distributor for Daniel Wellington in the UK and a range of analogue fashion watches made under license from the likes of Radley, Orla Kiely and Jigsaw.

It also worked with distributors all over the world for its own fashion watch brand, Henry London, after a high profile launch at Baselworld.

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As tech giants siphoned customers away, turnover for Peers Hardy dropped to £22.6 million in 2019 and £19.5 million in pandemic-affected 2020.

That was when the penny dropped and the company pivoted out of quartz and into affordable and fashionable smartwatches.

The results have been dramatic, with turnover bouncing back to £27.2 million in 2021 and momentum this year encouraging Peers Hardy to reignite its global distributor network for a fresh range of fashion smartwatches.

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Reflex Active.

“We are not competing with the tech companies,” Mr Harry explains. “These are watches aimed at the same customers and retailers that used to buy quartz fashion watches.”

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Amelia Austin.

There are five fashion smartwatch brands in the Peers Hardy portfolio — Tikkers, Reflex Active, Amelia Austin, Radley and Harry Lime — with prices ranging from the equivalent of $30 for fitness bands to $130 for full-featured smartwatches.

Full details here.

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Harry Lime.

Unlike the proliferation of unbranded smartwatches flooding the market from China, which are even cheaper, Peers Hardy is creating fashion brands around the timepieces and making them attractive to younger customers with patterned and colored straps, decorated dials and crystal embellished bezels.

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Radley.

“It’s a bit of bling for the office or the gym,” Mr Harry jokes.

Key accounts reporting booming sales of its fashion smartwatches, according to Peers Hardy, include Argos, H. Samuel, F. Hinds, Watchshop, and several mail order businesses.

Mr Harry thinks independent jewellers, which have reduced their watch offerings over recent years, could pivot back into fashion smartwatches.

He is meeting some resistance from these independents, because they are wary of trying something new and unfamiliar.

“Quartz is in a terrible state, but leaping into something different is scary for some. We need to get the message across that these smartwatches can be sold just like fashion watches, but with a connected movement,” Mr Harry explains.

Retailers also worry about after sales service and support, but Peers Hardy’s experience shows that return rates for smartwatches are on a par with quartz.

There is also reassuring news when it comes to customer feedback on the watches. Scrolling through various models in the Reflex Active range on Argos, all reviews are four stars and above; Google ratings are in the same range.

Click here to find out more about Jacques Du Manoir.

Click here to find out more about Reflex Active.

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