Nov 9, 2021
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Watches of Switzerland's appeal grows with another stellar H1

Nov 9, 2021

If there was an award for the best-performing retailer throughout the pandemic and beyond, Watches of Switzerland (WoS) would be at least shortlisted.

Watches of Switzerland

Yet another “strong performance”, this time for the first six months ending 31 October from the UK-based, London-listed high-end timepiece retailer. This was (again) “driven by broad-based and margin-enhancing growth in the UK and the US against both last year and two years ago”, it said.

And although the success is based on a “versatile multi-channel model” it was important for the business to note that since reopening this spring it has “enjoyed re-connecting with customers in our stores”.

Reflecting just how successful some of its in-store initiatives have been is that since the big re-open, roughly 40% of sales came from its 'By Personal Appointment' business.

So how good were the latest figures?  H1 group revenue jumped 44.6% to £586.2 million from £414.3 million a year ago and by 40.8% versus two years ago (both in constant currency).

And even since the return of physical retail, its group e-commerce sales were up 28.7% on last year.

Add to that a "robust” UK performance that continues to be generated by a “thriving domestic clientele”, and revenue here also jumped 42% to £418.6 million on a year ago.

In the US, “strong momentum” also drove revenues 50.2% higher to £167 million against a year ago’s H1 and 66.7% versus two years ago.

It cited across-the-board “continued strong demand environment for luxury watches and jewellery, with growth in the period led by a significant increase in volumes of non-supply constrained brands”.

No wonder chief executive Brian Duffy said “we are very pleased with our first half performance.” He added: “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 further expanded the Luxury Watch and Jewellery Virtual boutique in the UK, continued to grow the ‘By Personal Appointment’ business… and continued to enhance CRM, clienteling and digital marketing initiatives.”

Following a strong sales performance (with a margin-accretive product mix and further operating leverage), H1 adjusted EBITDA is expected to range from £81 million to £83 million, up from £52.2 million a year ago.

Following this performance, WoS now believes it will generate between £1.15 billion and £1.2 billion in revenue for the full year. That's a very healthy increase on the £1.05 billion-£1.1 billion previously estimated.

And that bullish outlook comes despite the company not expecting tourism and airport business to bounce back to normal anytime soon.

Meanwhile, it’s also planning to continue its expansion in the US, recently agreeing to purchase five stores in four new states (Dallas, Texas; Vail and Aspen, Colorado; Greenwich, Connecticut; and Minneapolis, Minnesota), bringing the total US portfolio to 36 stores in 12 states.

Duffy also added: “We are well stocked for the Holiday period and look forward to providing an exceptional shopping experience for our customers.”

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