Luxury watch retailer The Watch Gallery has been acquired by Bucherer, Europe’s largest retailer of watches and jewellery and one of Rolex’s top global sales partners.
The deal establishes the Swiss giant’s presence within the UK market, adding several boutiques in prime locations in central London. It currently trades from 29 exclusive locations in Europe, with 16 points of sale in Switzerland, 10 stores in Germany, and single boutiques in Vienna, Paris and Copenhagen.
Bucherer intends to continue to employ all staff of The Watch Gallery and will eventually integrate each boutique under its own brand name.
David Coleridge, chairman of The Watch Gallery, called Bucherer the “perfect partner” for the company.
“With the backing of one the world’s leading watch retailers, The Watch Gallery’s customers, business partners and employees will benefit from their tremendous experience, innovation, improved product selection and services,” he said.
“Bucherer’s experience in prestige department stores will be particularly beneficial to the growth of our business in Selfridges’ Wonder Room. Bucherer are the world’s leading Rolex partner; uniquely competent to our advancement of our Rolex boutiques at One Hyde Park and in Selfridges. I am extremely proud to be joining the Bucherer ‘family’ and look forward to an exciting future with my team.”
Back in April last year, WatchPro reported that The Watch Gallery was looking to sell at least 50% of the business as two of the original backers of luxury watch retailer were seeking to sell their shareholding.
Mr Coleridge explained that it was founded by five shareholders; four individuals and one closed US fund. The fund had passed its due date and as such was obliged to sell its shareholding. One of the other major shareholders was also seeking to sell their stake at the same time.
“Both parties’ shareholdings amount to just under 50% of the business, but Coleridge told WatchPro that “logically one would expect that more than 50% would sell, anything between 50% and 100% is the answer.”
Terms of the Bucherer deal have not been disclosed.
In February this year, meanwhile, Mr Coleridge told WatchPro that the business was in rude health, with sales up 42% on the previous year at the time of publication. In the previous financial year, it generated revenues of £54m and profits of £1.7m.
In the interview, the chairman explained that it had bold expansion plans in Westfield and that trading over the Christmas period was up a massive 19% up on the previous year, bumped partly by the revamping of Selfridges The Wonder Room, run by The Watch Gallery.
“I read that IWC was selling on Net-a-Porter. That would have been completely unimaginable even 12 months ago. Suddenly, they’re all rushing to be transactional. How the next 12 or 18 months will pan out is far from clear, but we can be certain that online will ‘disrupt’ the existing business, we just don’t know how at this stage,” Mr Coleridge (left) said.
Meanwhile, Guido Zumbühl, CEO of the Bucherer Group, said the acquisition – terms of which were not disclosed – provides a “very exciting opportunity” for the Bucherer Group to expand its operations.
“This acquisition strengthens our position as the leading European retailer in fine watches and jewellery and expands our brand presence in a very important international capital city,” he said.
“We will do everything to give our local and international customers the very best shopping experience. We are delighted that The Watch Gallery’s management will join our team to ensure both continuity and to help us drive the future success of Bucherer within the UK.”
Jörg G. Bucherer, owner and president of Bucherer, added: “I am delighted to bring our 130 year old brand to London. This city represents heritage like no other, yet at the same time it is at the centre of so many exciting new ideas that spread to the wider world. London is the perfect place to begin this fresh chapter of my family’s business.”