Glasgow watchmaker dials up growth after funding deal

Watchmaker AnOrdain is expanding its offering and upping headcount, including taking on its first apprentice, following a funding boost.

AnOrdain's Euan Fairholm is thought be the only apprentice watchmaker in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
AnOrdain's Euan Fairholm is thought be the only apprentice watchmaker in Scotland. Picture: Contributed

The Glasgow company, which produces enamel-faced, mechanical watches, has invested in a series of Swiss-made components and is increasing its range from one model to three after securing a £60,000 loan from Umi Debt Finance Scotland.

AnOrdain has grown staff numbers to ten and also hired what it believes to be Scotland’s only watchmaking apprentice.

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Founder Lewis Heath has previously described enamel-faced watches as the “pinnacle” of watchmaking and referred to the craft as a “dying art” in Scotland.

AnOrdain is expanding its range of enamel-faced, mechanical watches. Picture: Contributed

AnOrdain launched in summer 2018 and turned over more than £500,000 in its first 18 months of trading. It already has a retail partnership with jeweller James Porter & Son in Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade and is looking to land further deals in 2020, with tie-ups in New York and San Francisco currently in the pipeline.

The business ships around 70 per cent of orders overseas, predominantly to the US market but it also exports throughout Europe and in the Far East.

Heath cited increasing demand for mechanical timepieces. He said: “The loan has allowed us to invest in a ­substantial number of components from Switzerland, so we can expand our product ­offering from one to three models next year.

“Digital and battery powered watches are rapidly in decline because they can’t compete with smartwatches and mobiles – but the sale of mechanical watches hasn’t been affected at all by smart watches, in fact it’s a growing market.”

Part of a £12m Scottish growth fund

Early inspiration for the design of the timepieces came from Loch an Ordain, a small loch at Assynt, in the Highlands.

Heath’s previous ventures include Glasgow headphone maker RHA Technologies, which he established in 2011 before parting ways with the company in 2016 to focus on establishing AnOrdain. Under his tenure, RHA’s turnover grew to £7 million while headcount rose to more than 40 and the company listed Apple among its clients.

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The loan deal for AnOrdain comes as part of a £12m fund that forms part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Growth Scheme.

Coatbridge-based Umi Debt Finance Scotland was launched in January last year to provide loans of between £25,001 and £100,000 to Scottish businesses. Loans are issued for three years and carry interest rates of between 6.5 per cent and 12 per cent.

Fund director Tom Brock said: “Lewis Heath is exactly the type of entrepreneur we want to back with our loans – he’s innovative, he’s ambitious and he’s creating jobs right here in Scotland.

“Lewis is not only building his own business, but is also preserving the intricate art of watchmaking by taking on an apprentice and creating roles for other craftspeople.

“He’s already shown with RHA that he has a track record of success, and we were impressed with the clarity and detail of his business plan. Visiting [AnOrdain’s] premises and seeing the team in action brought to life the craftmanship that goes into producing each watch.”