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Watches of Switzerland directors bank $19 million from sale of shares

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The Watches of Switzerland Group CEO Brian Duffy.

Watches of Switzerland Group’s CEO Brian Duffy and CFO Anders Romberg have sold shares for a total of $19 million in the past few weeks.

Filings with the London Stock Exchange, where WoSG is listed, show Mr Duffy (pictured top) sold one million shares for a total of £6.63 million ($9.1 million) on March 22.

Less than three weeks later, chief financial officer Mr Romberg also offloaded one million shares, but the group’s surging share price meant he netted £7.24 million ($9.9 million) on April 9, three days before non essential retail was allowed to re-open in England after a three month lock down.

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Mr Duffy’s $9 million windfall is his second from the sale of shares in the group.

Immediately after the company went public in the summer of 2019, he sold 1,868,694 shares of the company’s stock at an average price of £2.70 for a total transaction of £5,045,473 ($6.9 million at today’s exchange rate).

Mr Duffy was granted a nil-cost option to acquire 2,222,222 ordinary shares at the time of the IPO “in recognition of the director’s services to the company and to ensure ongoing incentivisation, subject to the director’s continued service with the company”.

Those aggrieved at excessive remuneration should balance the rewards for Mr Duffy and Mr Romberg with the remarkable financial performance of Watches of Switzerland Group, particularly through the last year of restrictions.

The UK and New York have endured some of the toughest lock down restrictions in the world, although Florida, where the majority of WoSG’s Mayors stores are located, was one of the most open economies.

WoSG has 138 stores across its networks in the UK and United States (based on October 2020 data).

Its most recent financial results, for the quarter ending January 24, showed year-on-year growth of 6% to revenue of £272.6 million for the Christmas and New Year trading period. The group’s American business grew by more than 19% at constant currency to £86.5 million for the 13 week period.

Over the past 12 months, WoSG share price has risen 312% from £1.79 to a high of £7.37 recorded last week.

The group is currently valued at £1.7 billion ($2.3 billion) and has paid down significant levels of debt this year, leaving analysts wondering whether there it might embark on an acquisition spree this year, particularly in the United States where it still only has a significant presence in Florida, New York and Las Vegas.

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