Luxury watch retailer run by Scots-born boss to launch across Europe

Watches of Switzerland, the luxury time-piece retailer fronted by Scots-born chief executive Brian Duffy, has revealed plans to launch across Europe as it posted soaring annual profits thanks to customers’ booming “disposable wealth” in the pandemic.

Scotsman Brian Duffy is the chief executive of Watches of Switzerland, which ranks as Britain’s biggest retailer of Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer and Breitling watches. Picture: John Devlin

Under a new five-year plan, the group aims to enter the European luxury watch market through acquisitions and new boutiques in a shift away from its previous focus on the UK and US.

Britain’s biggest retailer of Rolex, Cartier, Omega, Tag Heuer and Breitling watches said it believes the EU could account for between 5 per cent and 8 per cent of group revenues by 2026.

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Details of the expansion plans came as the firm reported annual profits soaring to £63.7 million for the year to May 2, up from £1.5m the previous year.

Constant currency sales rose 13.3 per cent to £905.1m. UK sales lifted 3.6 per cent to £606.5m as strong domestic demand offset the hit from lower tourist and airport trade amid coronavirus travel restrictions.

Duffy said: “Our customer has accumulated disposable wealth and our category is an attractive option.”

He added that trading has remained “strong in both the UK and the US since the year-end” and that the group plans to “capitalise on the significant opportunity to accelerate our strategy”.

“We plan to achieve growth through further geographical diversification, becoming the clear leader in the US market, and establishing a presence in the EU with the targeted roll-out of our proven model,” he said.

Duffy said customer numbers are still down heavily in its 148 stores across the UK and US. But he said trading remains strong thanks to online sales.

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