“When it’s over – and at some point this is over – someone who wants to buy a Rolex, say, or an IWC, I believe still will,” predicts The Watches of Switzerland Group (WOSG) chief executive Brian Duffy.
“And if there’s a close down – and we are all anticipating a shutdown of between four and 12 weeks – there would be a really positive period afterwards. And whether you’d call it a boom or not, there would be a recovery period. So our anticipation is that whatever we lose during a close down we’ll probably recover as soon as we’re up and running again,” he adds in an interview with GQ’s deputy editor Bill Prince. just ahead of yesterday’s lockdown announcement by the government.
Watches of Switzerland, Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths — all part of the WOSG portfolio — are focusing their energy on concierge sales and ecommerce from today. Their websites say they are delivering orders as normal.
But Mr Duffy says ecommerce cannot fully compensate for lost business caused by store closures.
“Not at the moment,” he replies when asked whether online sales counteract a fall in bricks-and-mortar business. “Our online business is strong and grows consistently (20% growth year-on-year), but it’s neither moved up nor down. But the stores are still open here in the UK, so we haven’t seen the impact of that yet. The argument is that when they are closed you would anticipate that online would benefit,” he adds.