Aurum Holdings, which will change its corporate name to The Watches of Switzerland Group on September 1, has appointed Dennis Millard as chairman.
He will take up the role on October 1.
Speculation is mounting that the group, which is owned by American private equity firm Apollo Global Management, will go public on the London Stock Exchange in 2019.
Mr Millard’s appointment certainly fits with that narrative, since he has considerable experience working with publicly listed and private equity-backed retail groups.
He is currently a non-executive director at Superdry Plc and deputy chairman and non-executive director at Pets at Home Group Plc.
He has also served full terms as chairman of Halfords Group Plc and Connect Group Plc (formerly Smiths News Plc) and was a non-executive director at Debenhams Plc, Premier Farnell Plc and Xchanging Plc.
He has been CFO of a range of businesses including Cookson Group Plc and London and New York listed international pharmaceutical group, Medeva Plc.
Brian Duffy, chief executive of Aurum Holdings / The Watches of Switzerland Group, has stopped short of confirming that a public listing is being planned, but a statement from the group confirming the appointment of Mr Millard says: “The Company continues to work with its owners and advisers on strategic options for the business, including a possible IPO.”
The group has just announced record sales for the 2017-18 financial year of £685 million, a period that will increase once turnover from America, where Aurum Holdings acquired the Mayors chain of luxury jewellers last year and took over the running of several luxury watch stores, including the biggest Rolex boutique in the United States, at Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.
The US business is currently providing the greatest opportunities for growth, with Watches of Switzerland stores being developed in New York, and plans for additional showrooms in California and Las Vegas. The more mature UK business includes Goldsmiths, Watches of Switzerland, Watchshop, The Watch Lab and Mappin & Webb.
Mr Duffy says that the appointment of Mr Millard comes at an exciting time for the company. “I am delighted that Dennis has agreed to join our Board as non-executive chairman. Dennis’ extensive experience in working with public and private companies during his career will be invaluable as we continue to grow this business. I am also pleased to be changing our company name to Watches of Switzerland Group. Our new name will be a testament to the core strength of our business.”
Mr Millard adds: “I am pleased to be joining the Board of this exciting and dynamic business. Watches of Switzerland Group is focused on the growing global market for luxury watches and has a track record of delivering results through both organic and acquisitive growth. I look forward to working with Brian and his team on the next stage of the company’s development.”