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How did Watches of Switzerland Group boost sales by almost 50%?

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Sales for Watches of Switzerland Group for the first six months of its 2022 financial year — 26 weeks to October 31 — increased by 44.6% over the same six months last year to £586.2 million.

The latest financial report suggests that the group is successfully broadening its base of sales to become less reliant on the waiting-list watch brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.

“Growth in the period [was] led by a significant increase in volumes of non-supply constrained brands,” the company stated.

E-commerce growth of 28.7% was lower than rise in overall sales, meaning a shift back towards in-store purchases now that showrooms in the United States and UK have been fully open throughout the trading period.

WoSG has successfully snapped its reliance on overseas tourist spending in major global cities.

In the UK, revenue rose by 31.8% versus H1 FY20 (six months to the end of April in pre-pandemic 2019) when a third of sales were generated by tourists and airports. The company describes tourist business in the most recent trading period as “negligible”.

Across the pond, the acquisitions of Betteridge, Timeless Luxury and a Ben Bridge store in the United States will add $100 million of annual turnover, WoSG says.

They bring the USA company network to 22 multi-brand and 14 mono-brand boutiques and coverage is now extended to a presence in 12 states.

In forward guidance, the report says it expects sales to reach £1.15 billion to £1.20 billion (previous guidance £1.05 billion to £1.10 billion) this financial year despite the assumption that tourism and airport business will not return to pre-pandemic levels.

Brian Duffy at Watches of Switzerland’s Hudson Yards showroom in New York.

Brian Duffy, Watches of Switzerland Group CEO, said: “We are very pleased with our first half performance. Over the last two years, we have demonstrated the versatility of our multi-channel model with a more than doubling of sales to domestic clients and within this half year, a significant change in brand mix.

“We have enjoyed re-connecting with customers in our stores whilst further elevating the experience by retaining several initiatives and enhancements introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have further expanded the Luxury Watch and Jewellery Virtual boutique in the UK, continued to grow the by-personal-appointment business which now accounts for approximately 40% of UK sales and continued to enhance CRM, clienteling and digital marketing initiatives. Our teams have been fantastic in embracing all modes of customer engagement, driving growth across all channels throughout this period.

“We continue to build on a growing foundation in the US, further strengthening our position through the agreement to purchase five stores in four new states.

“The strength of our performance, both in our well-established UK business and in our growing US business, coupled with our confidence in the luxury watch and jewellery categories has led us to upgrade our guidance for the full year.

“We are well stocked for the holiday period and look forward to providing an exceptional shopping experience for our customers. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues for their dedication and enthusiasm and to welcome our new colleagues to the business.”

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