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Watches of Switzerland shares energised by record profits

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Watches of Switzerland sells brands such as Rolex (Watches of Switzerland)
Watches of Switzerland sells brands such as Rolex (Watches of Switzerland)

Shares in Watches of Switzerland made one of the biggest rises on the FTSE 250 in Thursday morning trade after the retailer reported record annual profit in what its chief executive called a “tremendous year”.

Brian Duffy told the Standard he was “delighted with the results,” saying they were “ahead of what I would have predicted at the start of the year”.

Profit before tax almost doubled to £126 million, from group revenue of £1.2bn, up 40% at constant exchange rates. UK revenue rose 36% to £810m while US revenue reached £428m, up 48%.

The new financial year also started well, with Duffy saying there was no sign as yet of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis hurting the luxury watch market. “We’re adding more people to the waiting list ... the world has woken up to just how attractive these products are, they preserve value and can provide liquidity.”

The company’s UK performance was helped by strong demand at its Boutique Rolex outlets, including one in the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush. Tudor branded watches, promoted by David Beckham, were also key drivers of sales. It opened 18 new showrooms in the year and refurbished 17 and said it had “big plans” for its European business.

Watches of Switzerland also operates 171 showrooms in Britain and America, under the Mappin & Webb brand as well as Goldsmiths in the UK. It owns Mayors in the US alongside the Betteridge chain. It also has seven retail websites.

“It’s a kind of ‘rational indulgence’ to buy our products, if you want to celebrate, to have something special that is going to be a family heirloom,” said Duffy.

The company stood by its existing guidance for the year ahead. Its shares were up 1.1% at 797p in morning trade, putting it in fourth place on the FTSE 250 leaderboard.

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