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Watches of Switzerland Eyes Small US Retailers

The luxury timepiece seller is pumping investment into acquiring regional US retailers that can't compete in the market alone.
Inside a Watches of Switzerland store | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Bloomberg

NEW YORK, United States — Watches of Switzerland Group Ltd. is in early takeover discussions with several regional retailers in the US that don't have the size, scale and resources to compete in the market, according to Chief Executive Brian Duffy.

“There are a few candidates that are small in scale, but nevertheless could be accretive in interest,” Duffy said in a phone interview on Tuesday. Discussions are at an early stage and the company is likely to expand in the US through acquisitions in the next few years, he said.

The UK’s biggest seller of luxury timepieces, which went public in May, has been pumping investment into acquiring US retailers, expanding in e-commerce and refurbishing brick-and-mortar stores. Small watch boutiques are under pressure as watchmakers increasingly seek to sell directly to consumers.

The company is phasing out fashion brands like Hugo Boss and Michael Kors as well as lower-end jewellery lines as it plans to focus completely on luxury. Duffy said it's too early to tell whether Watches of Switzerland will start retailing rival Tiffany & Co., which agreed to be acquired by LVMH, whose timepieces the company already sells.

Watches of Switzerland also reported first-half revenue of 428.7 million pounds ($564 million) and raised its full-year forecast for like-for-like sales growth of 8 percent to 9 percent.

By Corinne Gretler; editors: Eric Pfanner and Thomas Mulier.

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