Aurum Holdings should not expect its expansion into the United States to be plain sailing, a leading American retailer has warned.
Danny Govberg, chief executive of Govberg watch showrooms in Philadelphia and Cleveland and founder of pre-owned luxury watch trading app Watchbox, says the US market behaves very differently to Aurum’s stronghold of London.
Aurum Holdings is owned by US-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management, and owns four retail brands in the UK: Watches of Switzerland, Mappin & Webb, Goldsmiths and Watchshop. The group bought the Mayors chain of jewelers in Florida and Atlanta last year, and has announced it will open Watches of Switzerland showrooms in New York and Las Vegas in 2018.
Mr Govberg also suggests that growth will be limited by Aurum’s ability to secure sufficient Rolex inventory for the 23 showrooms it will operate next year in New York, Las Vegas and Florida where it owns 17 Mayors boutiques.
“Personally, I think it is good for the industry that Aurum is coming. I think that Brian Duffy is a great guy who knows his stuff. He will bring energy to the US watch market,” Mr Govberg tells WatchPro.
“We do not know now whether he is going to look like a genius or a colossal failure,” he continues. “Don’t forget, there are no more Rolexes around. It is not like he is in a position to go and get a lot more watches because Rolex will treat him differently. He is going to wake up one day in the middle of December with shops in all these malls, and he is not going to have any steel Rolexes.”
The greater challenge is for Aurum Holdings to stimulate demand in the US that, according to Mr Govberg, assigns a great deal less importance to owning prestige watches. “Americans think differently to people in London. In London, the majority of the people, whether we are talking about cab drivers, waiters, people who work in hotels, they love watches. When I go to London the people that clean my room are wearing a nice watch. In the States it is so far from that. The people working here do not have a nice watch because it is not so important to them,” he suggests.