The Watches of Switzerland Group’s initial public offering last year allowed the company to pay down debt and clear the decks for a surge in store openings in 2020.
Net debt has been reduced from £235 million at the end of October 2018 to £92 million at the end of the same quarter in 2019, opening a path to at least eight openings in the UK, alone.
In addition, there will be 11 monobrand stores opened in the United States with Breitling, Omega and TAG Heuer, and one multibrand showroom.
The group also announced the acquisition of four Fraser Hart stores, which will be rebranded this year.
Along with relocations and refurbishments in the UK, WOSG has announced a raft of major projects in its latest financial report including:
- Conversion of our Watches of Switzerland, Glasgow showroom to a Rolex boutique (April 20)
- Watches of Switzerland, Knightsbridge extension and new Rolex room (Spring 20)
- Four new TAG Heuer mono-brand boutiques in Watford, Oxford, Kingston and Cardiff (Spring/Summer 20)
- Our first Tudor mono-brand boutique in White City (Spring 20), the first in Europe
- Awarded a new five year contract with Heathrow for Terminal 3 in conjunction with the development of the showroom to include a new Rolex room (September 20)
- Watches of Switzerland Broadgate, London (Summer 20) with Rolex and Omega as lead brands
- Watches of Switzerland Battersea Power Station is now expected to complete in Spring 21 with Rolex as lead brand
Unprecedented shortages of popular watches from the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet make it increasingly difficult for WOSG to satisfy demand, but the group’s chief executive Brian Duffy believes the only way to secure allocations is to keep investing.
“It continues to be an important conversation for all retailers of Rolex, Patek and Audemars Piguet world-wide. What we need is to keep investing, expanding and elevating. As we do that, we find we are more likely to get support from these brands. That is the only tactic we have found to be reliable,” Mr Duffy says in The Big Interview with WatchPro to be published in February.
“Overall, we have found the brands to be very fair in the way that they allocate their product. The view in Switzerland is that the UK is a very good market, well-disciplined, growing, and a market with consistently high quality presentation. As a result, and because of that confidence, I would say that the UK is favoured,” he adds.