Watches of Switzerland’s shift towards luxury watches has paid off as documents filed with Companies House today reveal this product category accounted for 72% of turnover in the last financial year.
The group’s turnover for the period endied April 29, 2018, was already disclosed before Christmas at £685.2 million, an increase of 21.2% over the prior year.
The impact of acquiring Mayors and two retail stores in the Wynn Resort of Las Vegas can now be disclosed as the American businesses added £90 million of sales to the group.
Sales in the UK rose by 5.1% from the prior year from £566 million to £595 million.
Operating profit at The Watches of Switzerland Group jumped by over 35% in the financial year, with operating profit from the UK alone increasing by 24% to £34 million.
The business has continued to shift its focus towards luxury watches and away from less expensive fashion and classic watches. In 2016-17 luxury watches accounted for 65% of turnover. By the following year the contribution had increased to 72%.
Sales of fashion and classic watches had declined by 15%, largely due to the company exiting its Boutique by Goldsmiths business in the UK, which specialised in volume watch brands. Sales of these inexpensive watches have shifted online within the group to its Watchshop.com property, but online growth did not compensate for the downturn in sales from physical stores.
Jewellery sales grew by 7% over the period, although it is not clear how much of this came from the American operation.
In the UK the Watches of Switzerland Group continue to operate Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths – two boutiques which sell jewellery alongside watches – alongside some solely-watch retail concepts.
Brian Duffy has made it clear the company is moving towards bespoke and exclusive luxury jewels – with the Group’s CEO telling us that the two most important jewellery brands are Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths.
“We have very much positioned their jewellery lines as brands,” shares Duffy. “We give them great in-store presentation, we support them with advertising — digital and other above the line advertising. We have put a lot of money behind Mappin & Webb, positioning it correctly as a great luxury heritage brand.”
He continues: “Our brands offer fabulous diamond and bridal jewellery. Mappin & Webb jewellery, for example, has been very successful within Goldsmiths stores as we position it as a third party brand.”
To complement its own jewellery pieces and luxury watches, the Group also works with brands such as Fope and Messika, which it attempts to get regional exclusivity for.
As of April 29, 2018, The Watches of Switzerland Group was running 134 stores in the UK and 19 stores in the United States.