UK retailers have told WatchPro that they think that the soaring Swiss franc against the euro could be good for high end watch sales in Britain.
A major investigation into the impact of the Swiss National Bank abandoning its policy of limiting the franc’s strength against the euro has discovered that UK retailers think they could become more competitive against competitors in the eurozone.
Joe Walsh, managing director of Laings of Glasgow, which sells several premier Swiss brands including Rolex and Patek Philippe, points out that the franc has strengthened less against sterling than it has against the euro, which helps to close a historic price difference between the UK and the eurozone. “Whilst the franc-euro rate has moved significantly since the decoupling of the franc and the euro, the pound-franc rate has not moved as much,” he tells WatchPro.
“The signs from SIHH (an exhibition of Richemont brands) are that watch manufacturers have kept prices in UK stable – or slight increase – whilst increasing the prices in Europe at a greater rate. This actually makes UK pricing a lot more competitive,” he adds.
Myalee Sofield, head of buying and merchandising for Fraser Hart agrees. “So far the price increases seem to be limited to the eurozone which brings the current euro pricing structure into closer alignment with the sterling price structure. We have actually been slightly higher priced than the euro retailers for some time making the UK a less desirable place to purchase in a lot of instances,” she explains.
Laings of Glasgow and Fraser Hart are among dozens of retailers and brands interviewed by WatchPro for a special report into the impact of the soaring franc on Swiss watch brands. The full report will be published in the March edition of WatchPro, which also includes a full preview into the Baselworld exhibition.