Watches of Switzerland continues its great expansion in the United States
The publicly traded company is the UK’s largest luxury watch retailer and is quick to recruit retailers, in addition to establishing its own branded boutiques, in the United States. It currently has 158 stores in the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as 46 the brand’s monospaces in partnership with Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega, Breitling, Audemars Piguet and Fope. In addition to its own Watches of Switzerland brand stores, it also owns Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths in the UK, as well as Mayors in the US. Its latest acquisitions in the United States, announced on Tuesday, include Betteridge, Ben Bidge and Timeless Luxury Watches.
This is WoS’s biggest expansion since entering the US market in 2017. Betteridge stores in Greenwich, Connecticut, as well as Aspen and Vail, Colorado are now part of its fold. The same goes for the Ben Bridge store in the Mall of America outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota and Timeless Luxury Watches in Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas.
“Our intention from the start was that the US market was extremely underdeveloped due to a lack of retail investment, which I think we have proven to be correct,” said the CEO of the company. , Brian Duffy, Robb Report. “We have publicly announced that we have a plan to increase our business in the United States by 25-30% per year over the next five years.” He says the focus will, unsurprisingly, be on Rolex distribution. And they seem to have no problem offloading Rollies to their customers. When we visited the WoS store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood (they also have a store in Hudson Yards), there were only four watches left in the Rolex glass display cases in the store. The SoHo business, according to Duffy, has been a runaway success and it looks like it has a strategy for the rest of the United States.
The company set its sights on Ben Bridge not only because it was a Rolex-based store, but also because it was underperforming. Duffy sees this as an untapped opportunity to infuse the store with Watches of Switzerland’s vast marketing and investment resources. As for Luxury Time Watches, he says, it’s located in a large mall, Legacy West, and happens to be the only watch retailer in the building. “We’ll have watch exclusivity there and we’ve agreed to have Rolex there, so we’ll have a good deal in Dallas, TX,” Duffy said.
Betteridge, however, is a bit of a surprise. Former owner Terry Betteridge has long been a staple of the watch industry, having grown the business after taking over from his father in the 1970s. You can often find him courted by luxury watch brands (us the last seen in Tokyo with Grand Seiko), and is known as one of the main suppliers of Rolex and Patek Philippe. While the deal gives Watches of Switzerland a few retail outposts in plush and upscale locations, the family will keep the Palm Beach, Fla. Store under their control along with Betteridge’s son Win Betteridge at the head of the company. He will take on an advisory role, primarily to assist with the sale of the company’s jewelry.
It’s a deal that brings Betteridge, in a sense, back to Britain. The family has its roots in the 1700s in Birmingham, England. John Betteridge was a goldsmith who made snuffboxes and matchsticks for the English nobility. His descendants finally landed on Ellis Island in New York in 1892, and AE Betteridge Sr. eventually settled in Meriden, Connecticut, where he ran the International Silver Factory. The first Betteridge stores opened in the early 1900s on Fifth Avenue and Wall Street in New York City and eventually the Miami Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
“We got to know Terry and we have a match that works for everyone,” says Duffy. “He felt it was right to stay in our group and continue to be part of the company. We’re going to keep the name, but obviously it will be part of a much bigger group and we can also get them to invest our technology and our marketing. Betteridge has a great reputation in Connecticut and Colorado and we want to build on that. As a result, Watches of Switzerland plans to keep the Betteridge name.
The news of the acquisitions follows a recent 10% spike for WoS on the London Stock Exchange. The company generated revenue of £ 586.2million (approx. $ 792.4million) for the first half of the fiscal year ending October 31, compared to £ 414.3million (approx. $ 560 million) for the same period the previous year. The addition of stores will bring the conglomerate’s total U.S. stores to 36 in 12 states.