LONDON, United Kingdom — Britain's biggest watch retailer Watches of Switzerland Group said on Thursday it was considering an initial public offering in London, as it looks to make acquisitions and reduce debt.
The company, which sells brands such as Rolex, Richemont's Cartier and Swatch Group's Omega, is looking to trade on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, using its premium listing segment, and sell 25 percent of new and existing shares.
A premium listing meets more stringent rules than the European Union's minimum requirements.
The IPO could value the company at up to £1 billion ($1.31 billion), or between 12 and 15 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Its revenues hit £746 million and EBITDA stood at 67.7 million in the year to January 2019.
Owned by US-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management, Watches of Switzerland has 125 shops in Britain and also opened several standalone stores in the United States, including branches in Las Vegas and New York.
Watches of Switzerland Group said it accounted for half of all Rolex sold in the UK in 2018.
"Today's announcement signals the next stage in that journey, leveraging our scale, retail and e-commerce expertise and strong stakeholder relationships to continue our profitable growth strategy," chief executive Brian Duffy said in a statement.
The global luxury watch market is a structurally attractive market, underpinned by favourable, long-term growth in both price and volume.
Watches of Switzerland would join Middle Eastern payment firms Network International and Finablr to end a drought in the European IPO market, where proceeds have fallen to their lowest in more than a decade in the first three months of 2019, according to Refinitiv data.
Barclays and Goldman Sachs International are global coordinators on the deal, while BNP Paribas and Investec are acting as bookrunners and N.M. Rothschild is acting as financial adviser.
By Arno Schuetze, Clara Denina; editors: Sinead Cruise, Jane Merriman.