Aurum Holdings was the biggest watch and jewellery retail group in the UK in 2016, beating Signet Jewelers for the first time.
Aurum Holdings operates Goldsmiths, Watches of Switzerland, Mappin & Webb, Watch Shop and the Watch Lab, while Signet Jewelers owns H.Samuel and Ernest Jones.
Signet Jewelers has been growing steadily for the past three years, with group sales rising from £447 million in 2014 (FY 2015 ending January 31 2015) to £489 million last year.
Over the same period, growth at Aurum Holdings has been steeper; with group sales soaring from £374 million in 2014 (FY 2015 ending January 31 2015) to £565 million last year.
The impact of the groups’ respective watch businesses appears to be the key difference. In FY 2013, the year that Ernest Jones stopped selling Rolex, watches accounted for 33% of turnover at H.Samuel and Ernest Jones. This was virtually unchanged last year, with watches accounting for 32% of sales.
Over the same period, diamonds and diamond jewellery have increased their share of sales for Signet Jewelers UK stores from 28% to 35%.
Aurum Holdings over the past three years has invested in building a power base for Swiss luxury watches, particularly in prime central London locations including Regent Street, Oxford Street and Knightsbridge; and at Heathrow Airport.
It has also been strengthening its retail presence for Swiss watches outside London, including monobrand boutique openings for Breitling in Manchester’s Trafford Centre and for TAG Heuer in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping mall this month.
The latest financial results show a 36% rise in luxury watch sales in the last financial year, according to Aurum Holdings CEO Brian Duffy.
“London and Heathrow outperformed the rest of the UK although all regions were positive with some excellent growth levels achieved in the major shopping centres of Bullring, Trafford, Meadowhall, Bluewater etc. Price increases do not seem to have deterred the UK consumer,” Mr Duffy added.