Britain’s biggest seller of Rolex and Omega watches said sales increased as Britons saw foreclosure savings on luxury watches and jewelry, including wedding and engagement rings.
Swiss watch sales to the UK rose 43% from pre-pandemic levels in the 13 weeks leading up to August 1, as the company recovered from coronavirus lockdowns.
The strong performance in the UK helped the group more than double year-on-year sales to £ 297.5million in the quarter, as trading in the US also took off.
Brian Duffy, managing director of the Leicestershire-based retailer, which floated in 2019, said sales had increased despite the loss of tourist traffic in the UK and the decline in customers visiting the stores. Only 7% of UK sales came from overseas visitors, up from around 30% in 2019.
He said: “People have built up disposable income because they have fewer places to spend and enjoy because they don’t travel or socialize. There is money around and we get our share, or more than our share. We were anticipating a strong period and we therefore invested in marketing, training [for staff] et stock.
He said sales of Cartier and Rolex watches had been strong, as were sales of Omega, which had benefited from its sponsorship of the Olympics.
Sales were in part bolstered by a pickup in weddings and engagements as restrictions on social occasions eased, he said. Sales of wedding rings have nearly tripled and engagement rings have doubled year on year, in line with an overall increase in jewelry sales.
Duffy said store staff believed customers, especially women, were buying more gifts and jewelry for themselves rather than other people, as treats after a difficult year.
He said the spending spree was also in part due to pent-up demand after Watches of Switzerland lost around £ 100million in sales in 2019 due to trade and travel restrictions linked to Covid-19.
But he said he expected the lead-up to Christmas to be “very good” as people would like to have fun after another difficult year in the face of the pandemic.
The group is opening a new store in Battersea, London, as well as outlets in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the American Dream Mall in New Jersey, despite the closures of many chain stores during the pandemic.