There have been just 190 confirmed cases of Covid-19 Coronavirus so far in Georgia, has that has not stopped sales dropping by almost 40% in the last two weeks at SwissWatchExpo, a specialist pre-owned watch store with one of the largest inventories in the country.
Footfall is down even further, but the business does the majority of its sales online, despite displaying around 2,500 watches at its Altanta showroom at any one time.
Chief executive Eugene Tutunikov has seen the business grow by 400% over the past three years, and sees opportunities in the midst of the current crisis, despite the recent drop in activity.
“We are a family business, very lean, and we have a fantastic team of around 20 people,” he tells WatchPro. “None of them are losing their jobs because we are still busy and expect business to rebound once this situation is resolved.”
SwissWatchExpo buys, authenticates, refurbishes, polishes, photographs and markets every watch in its inventory, which is probably 3,000 pieces if you include everything going through the pre-sales process.
This model, which is the same for the likes of Watchbox and Bob’s Watches, requires a lot of cash to build the inventory, but should be more resilient during downturns because buying can be dialed down while every effort is made to increase sales.
The sales team will be working its regular clients hard, while promoting the ecommerce side of the business can generate new leads and sales. “Everybody is still in and working, we are not expecting lay-offs” Mr Tutunikov says. “If we were forced to close our whole building, that would be painful because everything coming in, going through our processes and being dispatched happens here. But if we were only forced to close the showroom, that would not be so bad,” he adds.
Clearly a man whose glass is always half full, Mr Tutunikov is even prepared to predict a record holiday season this year. “We have lost sales, but that means there is a lot of pent-up demand. When this is over, we will see that bounce back quickly,” he suggests.