Luxury watch firm headed by Scots CEO to flag expansion plans

Watches of Switzerland, the luxury time-piece retailer headed by Scots-born chief executive Brian Duffy, is expected to set out a strategy to accelerate its overseas growth when it reports full-year results this week.

Brian Duffy, chief executive of Watches of Switzerland, will this week reveal progress towards the £1 billion sales milestone. Picture: John Devlin
Brian Duffy, chief executive of Watches of Switzerland, will this week reveal progress towards the £1 billion sales milestone. Picture: John Devlin

The group has already had significant success in the US market which now accounts for a third of its total sales which are expected to top £1 billion in the current financial year.

Duffy is expected to outline plans to use the experience of the US expansion as a springboard into European markets when he addresses investors on Thursday.

The group, the UK’s largest retailer of Rolex, Cartier, Omega, TAG Heuer and Breitling watches, will report turnover increased by 13 per cent to £905 million in its latest financial year with further strong gains expected in the current period.

It has already flagged “very robust” UK trading despite the extended lockdown which closed non-essential stores for months on end.


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In a trading update to investors in May, the firm said UK revenues were up 3.6 per cent in the 53 weeks ending May 2, compared with the year before, despite store closures for about 26 weeks of the year, against just six weeks previously, alongside “significantly reduced” tourism and airport business.

It pointed to “outstanding” growth in the US, with revenue up 38.5 per cent compared with the year before.

The group, which also operates as Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths, also confirmed the planned repayment of all furlough support received during the period from the UK government, as well as the repayment and cancellation of £45m in the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme facility as a result of a “continued strong business performance”.

Duffy, a life-long Celtic fan, spent four years on the club's board from 2010 until 2014.


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He attended St Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow and studied accountancy after leaving school, working in finance roles for organisations including Polaroid at Vale of Leven and underwear firm Playtex at Port Glasgow before joining Ralph Lauren in 2003.

He spent nearly a decade with the business, serving as president for Europe and the Middle East, before joining Watches of Switzerland.

The firm has invested over £1.5m in three new showrooms within the first phase opening of the new St James Quarter development in Edinburgh.

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