Aurum Holdings has reported a 21.2% surge in sales to £685.2 million for the financial year ended April 30, 2018.
The group overtook Signet Jewelers to become the UK’s largest multi-store operator last year, and pushed into the North American market with the acquisition of Mayors in Florida and Atlanta in October, followed by the take-over of Rolex and multi-brand showrooms in Las Vegas.
The American business has been key to the group’s staggering growth in the past 12 months, with pro forma net sales rising 9.9% across the pond, while UK sales rose by 5.2%.
Worldwide earnings (EBITDA) rose 23.2% to £68 million.
Aurum Holdings has grown from a mid-sized British jewellery multiple in 2011 with turnover of under £300 million to the £685 million multinational group it is today.
In the UK it owns Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb, Watchshop, The Watch Lab and Watches of Switzerland. Only Watchshop and The Watch Lab were acquired, with the remaining growth coming from new store openings and organic expansion of existing retail businesses and a marked shift upmarket.
Luxury watches how account for 73% of group sales, according to today’s financial report.
While watches mean big business for the Group, it has not neglected the jewellery side. For the last 12 months the strategy in the UK has been to focus on more branded jewellery products to protect margins and profitability, whilst also launching a repositioning plan for its ‘fashion’ and ‘classic’ sector, which is predominantly online with WatchShop.
In the UK, like-for-like sales were up 4.2% during the financial year, with online luxury sales posting 25.3% lift. The company says this reflects the increasing importance of online for both driving sales and also encouraging customers into stores through targeted marketing.
A list of operational highlights accompanying the 2017-18 financial results suggests that growth opportunities in North America are as important as the larger UK operation to Aurum.
The report points to the successful integration of Mayors, a leading watch and jewelry retailer in Florida, and taking over management of a Rolex showroom and multi-brand watch boutique in the Wynn Resort, Las Vegas, in December last year.
The group is investing heavily in refurbishing and relocating some of the Mayors network of around 20 stores, and is on track to open three Watches of Switzerland shops in New York as well as additional luxury watch boutiques in Las Vegas.
It also has a programme of improvements to merchandising, marketing and CRM rolling out in North America in partnership with the key watch and jewellery brands it represents.
“It has been another year of continued progress for the Group, with good organic growth being further bolstered by key strategic developments in the US with the acquisitions of Mayors and Wynn. Luxury watches are the driver of growth in both the UK and US,” says MrDuffy.
“This solid performance was supported by the positive market trends in the UK, and particularly, in the US. The Swiss Watch Federation report strong growth in the global market for luxury watches. Our strong results and the growth we have seen in our total market share in this category during the year, coupled with the continued momentum in current trading post the year end, is testament to the strength of our retail brands, our store environments and our people, and demonstrates that we are well placed for future growth,” Mr Duffy concludes.
Aurum Holdings, which is owned by US-based Apollo Global Management, is rumored to be in preparation for a public listing early next year. It recently announced it will change its name to Watches of Switzerland Group on September 1, a re-branding reported to make it more investor-friendly ahead of an IPO.
Speaking to our sister publication WatchPro yesterday, the group’s chief executive, Brian Duffy, said that there was nothing formal to report on the subject of a sale or public listing, beyond confirming that the business routinely prepares for all outcomes.