Watches of Switzerland Financials Show There’s Life in the High Street. Just.

Watches of Switzerland has shrugged off the effects of Corona and reported a rise in group revenue by 5.9 per cent to £819.3 million in the year to April 26.

Watches of Switzerland owner Jewel Holdco S.A R.L, which also owns Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths in the UK is one of the big names in prestige watch retailing in the UK, and already well placed to expand its online operations

Watches of Switzerland said it experienced particularly strong trading pre-lockdown during the first 46 weeks to March 15 with UK and US sales rising by 9.4 per cent and 36.4 per cent respectively.

In the final six weeks of the year, Watches of Switzerland was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as the lockdown resulted in store closures both in the UK and US, says the statement from the Group. However, its ecommerce channels performed well with a 45.8 per cent uplift in sales.

Watches of Switzerland now expects its full year adjusted pre-IFRS 16 EBITDA to come in at between £75 million and £78 million.

“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the group had been on track to deliver double-digit sales growth, reflecting our strong brand partnerships, favourable market conditions and accelerating momentum in the US,” Watches of Switzerland chief executive Brian Duffy said.

“Despite the current challenges, demand for luxury watches has remained strong with online sales performance ahead of our expectations.

“Through our longstanding partnerships with the most prestigious Swiss watch brands, we have further enhanced the online customer experience with the introduction of additional brands which we had previously only transacted in our stores.”

It will be interesting to see if some of the Swiss brands follow the lead taken by car manufacturers and sell direct online to the consumer, relegating the authorised dealer to that of distribution role and service centre combined. For now, many Swiss watch retailers stand or fall on their online performance, but as many collectors know exctly which Rolex, Patek or Audemars model they want, the only issue is the price, it’s hard to see how bricks and mortar retailing can remian immune from the Corona effects on the High Street in the longer term.

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