Watches of Switzerland Group is ruling nothing out in its desire to establish a significant presence in continental Europe and sees opportunity in every country, according to chief executive Brian Duffy.
The group’s most recent end of year financial report gave forward guidance on a five year plan that anticipates acquisitions in European Union countries along with opening monobrand boutiques, further growth in travel retail, ecommerce and unspecified ‘new developments’.
The same guidance said WoSG anticipates that sales from the EU will contribute between 5% to 8% of group revenue by FY26; which could be around £150 million.
Mr Duffy hints that an acquisition in Europe will ideally resemble the successful purchase of Mayors in Florida and Georgia in 2017 where the group bought 17 stores — mostly Rolex-anchored multibrands — and a fully functioning head office and logistics hub for around $108 million.
“We’re very pleased with the success we’ve had in the US. We’ve proven that we can acquire businesses and integrate them and then invest and improve the business. We’ve proven we can enter new markets like New York. We’ve built a tremendous team infrastructure, so we have big ambitions for the US market, including acquisitions,” Mr Duffy tells US-based Professional Watches.
WoSG and its New York-based private equity owner were eyeing up the American market for a number of years ahead of the Mayors acquisition, believing that the country’s luxury watch business was fragmented and had considerable room for expansion given the country’s wealth, demographics and spending habits.
“In Europe we see somewhat similar conditions, markets that have no sort of dominant leadership of scale, such as we have in the UK. And the same sort of opportunity to acquire, invest, and consolidate. So we’ll be doing both,” Mr Duffy outlines. “We’ve analysed every market and it’s a matter of when the right opportunities come along. We haven’t set ourselves different objectives or priorities by country. We think there’s opportunity in every city in Europe.”