Former Celtic FC director Brian Duffy is set to clock up a fortune as the UK’s leading luxury watch company heads for a stock market listing.
Jewel UK Midco Limited, the parent company of Watches of Switzerland, the multi-channel retailer in the UK and a leading retailer of luxury watches in selected regions of the US, has announced it is considering an initial public offering.
The company, which is owned by US private equity group, Apollo Global Management, is expected to sell 25% of the new and existing shares, valuing the company at £1 billion, or between 12 and 15 times earnings before tax, depreciation and amortisation. EBITDA stood at £67.7 million in the year to January 2019.
The company is considering applying for admission of its ordinary shares to the premium listing segment of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority and to trading on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.
Rolex is one of the top brands with whom Watches of Switzerland does business
Watches of Switzerland Group is the leading multi-channel luxury watch retailer in the UK and a leading retailer of luxury watches in selected regions of the US, a resilient luxury product category in two of the most important global markets for luxury watches
With Duffy as chief executive, Watches of Switzerland Group has undergone significant transformation since 2014. It has achieved strong and sustained profitable growth, improved operating margins, delivered strong returns on capital invested and established a well-invested platform for growth. In 2018, Watches of Switzerland Group was recognised as the leading private mid-market growth company in The Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table.
Watches of Switzerland Group offers luxury watches and jewellery through its Watches of Switzerland, Goldsmiths, Mayors and Mappin & Webb stores. Watches of Switzerland Group has a 35% share of the UK luxury watch market by value of total luxury watch sales in 2018; and a 41% share of the UK luxury watch market by value of total luxury watch sales in 2018.
The group has strong long-standing relationships with owners of leading luxury watch brands, including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tag Heuer, Omega, Breitling, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, and other key suppliers. Watches of Switzerland Group is the largest retailer in the UK for several of these brands, including Rolex.
Rolex is the largest luxury watch brand in the UK by sales in 2018 with a 41% market share, growing at a 21% CAGR since 2014. Watches of Switzerland Group operates 39% of all Rolex agencies and accounted for 50% of Rolex’s sales in the UK in 2018.
The group has a nationwide network of 125 stores across the UK and at Heathrow Airport, while its flagship is its 155 Regent Street Watches of Switzerland store, the largest luxury watch showroom in Europe.
Watches of Switzerland Group currently has 21 stores in the US in Florida, Atlanta, the Wynn Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and two stores in New York, and is now the largest luxury watch retailer in the south-eastern region of the US
Group revenues were £746 million in the last twelve months to 27 January 2019, growing 18.0% since FY 2014.
Duffy, a life-long Celtic fan who grew up in the east of Glasgow, spent four years on the club’s board from 2010 until 2014.
Duffy said: “I am incredibly proud of the transformation Watches of Switzerland Group has undergone over the last five years to become the UK’s leading luxury watch retailer and successfully enter the important US market. Today’s announcement signals the next stage in that journey, leveraging our scale, retail and e-commerce expertise, and strong stakeholder relationships to continue our profitable growth strategy.
“There are significant growth opportunities ahead of us, both in the UK and the US, many of which are already being realised. We have a proven track record, an experienced management team and strong brand support for our plans. At Watches of Switzerland Group we have the best teams in the business and credit for our success goes to them. We love what we do and I am very excited for what lies ahead and the opportunity to take our growth strategy to the public markets.”