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Publicly traded watch and jewelry retailers rocket in value during the pandemic

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Signet Jewelers, Watches of Switzerland Group and The Hour Glass delivered stellar returns for shareholders in 2021, with all of them more than doubling their share prices last year.

The Hour Glass is headquartered in Singapore and has around 50 boutiques in its home country, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Phuket, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, most of which are anchored by Rolex, Patek Philippe or both.

Its share price soared by 159% last year.

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Signet Jewelers, which is more focused on jewelry, particularly in the United States, saw its share price rise by 135% as the Path to Brilliance strategy boosted profits.

Watches of Switzerland Group, which also operates on both sides of the Atlantic, benefited most from the hottest demand for luxury watches in recent history and saw its share price rise by 122%.

Chow Tai Fook, headquartered in Hong Kong and weighted towards jewelry over watches, increased its empire to a staggering 5,214 points of sale last year, including 5,078 in Mainland China and 136 in Hong Kong and Macau.

The continuing covid restrictions prevented citizens of China and Hong Kong from travelling abroad, but domestic sales surged, rewarding Chow Tai Fook’s shareholders with a 49% rise last year.

The surge in stock prices for retail groups is markedly stronger than vertically integrated groups such as LVMH, Richemont, Swatch Group, Fossil Group and Movado Group, which manufacture and increasingly run their own retail empires.

Watches make up on a small part of operations at luxury groups Richemont and LVMH, which saw their share prices rise by 68% and 38% respectively.

Watch specialist Swatch Group’s share price rose by a more modest 10%.

Rivals Movado Group and Fossil Group delivered very different returns, with Movado’s share price more than doubling while Fossil’s fell by 25%.

The difference between the performance of retail specialists and integrated groups is graphically illustrated when you compare their share prices over two years.

Signet is the star performer, delivering a 400% rise in its share price since the start of 2020.

Watches of Switzerland’s share price rose by 284% over the same period, The Hour Glass is up by 155% but Swatch Group’s stock price increased by just 10%.

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