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Our competitive advantage

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We are the leading luxury watch specialist in the UK with a growing presence in the US. The luxury watch industry is underpinned by strong long term fundamentals with robust demand, proven value creation and supply-driven dynamics.

7.3%
CY19 growth in Swiss luxury watch exports
£17.2bn
CY19 value of global Swiss watch exports

Luxury Watches

Global Swiss watch exports (wristwatches) reached a value of CHF 20.5 billion (£17.2 billion) during 2019, up 2.6% relative to 2018. Applying a retail mark up and adding sales generated in Switzerland results in global retail sales of Swiss watches of approximately CHF 50.7 billion (£42.6 billion) (Source: Morgan Stanley Research). During the first half of 2020, Swiss watch exports have declined, reflecting the COVID-19 related closure of both production facilities in Switzerland and retail distribution globally.

The luxury end of the market, on which the Group is focused, has outperformed in recent years.  In particular, exports of luxury watches with a price of over CHF 3,000 (c. £2,400) rose 7.3% during 2019 and now represent 69.1% of total global Swiss Watch exports (vs. 65.2% two years ago).  Note the basis of pricing relating to Swiss Watch data is a mixture of intercompany, wholesale and distributor pricing.

The luxury market for Swiss watches is resilient and driven by long term price increases and volume growth.  The industry is characterised by a structural imbalance between supply and demand, reflecting the faster rate of increase in demand relative to production.  In addition, global Swiss luxury watch sales are concentrated amongst a relatively small number of key brands which actively manage and control the distribution of their products, primarily through third party retailers, in order to preserve exclusivity and enhance brand positioning.

The luxury Swiss watch industry is highly concentrated amongst the top brands, led by Rolex, which is the leading brand globally and in both the US and the UK.  The Group’s sales mix is aligned with the market with the top seven brands representing 73.9% of Group revenue.  These top seven brands are the same across both the UK and the US markets:

  • Rolex
  • Patek Philippe
  • Audemars Piguet
  • Cartier
  • OMEGA
  • Breitling
  • TAG Heuer

Geographically, Asia is the largest market for Swiss watch exports, accounting for 53.2% of the total, followed by Europe at 30.0% and America at 14.7%.  The UK and the US, the Group’s two markets, represent the fifth and second largest markets for Swiss watch exports, respectively.

UK

The UK is the fifth largest market globally.  The value of Swiss wristwatch exports with prices >CHF500 reached CHF 1.2 billion (£1.0 billion) during 2019, up 12.6% vs the prior year and by a CAGR of 10.8% since 2010.  The UK has been the most dynamic market in Europe, increasing its share of the region from 11.9% to 20.6% between 2010 and 2019.

In line with the global trend, exports of watches with retail prices over CHF 500 outperformed in the UK, increasing 16% during 2019 to reach a total value of CHF 1.0 billion, or retail sales of approximately £1.6 billion.  The Group cemented its leadership position in the UK during the year and further increased its market share.

US

The US is the second largest market for Swiss wristwatch exports, with a value of CHF 2.4 billion (£1.9 billion) during 2019, up 11.6% relative to the prior year.  Since 2010, the US market has recorded a CAGR of 5.1%, with watches over CHF 3,000 achieving a CAGR of 7.3%.  The size of the US market in 2019 is broadly in line with 2014, having dipped in 2016 and 2017 before beginning to grow thereafter.

According to NPD data, retail sales of luxury watches reached approximately $3.4 billion during 2019.  The Group has established a significant presence in the US, making a major step towards its goal of becoming leaders in this market.

Online

According to GFK data, the total market for online sales of luxury watches reached £54.3 million during 2019 (2018: £49.2 million), excluding brands’ own online sales and fashion retailers’ sales, an increase of 10.2% relative to 2018.   Online penetration of luxury watches in the UK increased to 12.9% (2018: 11.9%).  During FY20, the Group further expanded its leading position in online sales of this category and reached market share of 43.7% (FY19: 40.4%).  The Group continued to enhance its e-commerce platform during the year including expanding the portfolio of brands sold online, some of which were previously only transacted in stores, during the COVID-19 related lockdown period.

During the first six months of 2020, the online market for luxury watches increased 41.1% relative to the same period during the prior year, accelerating relative to the growth of 15.8% seen during the same prior year period.  During the first six months of 2020, the online penetration of luxury watch sales reached 19.2% (2019: 12.6%) and the Group’s market share increased to 48.0% (first six months 2019: 41.2%).

Risks to the market

Luxury brands continue to actively work to reduce grey market activity, where watches are bought and sold by unauthorised dealers. This practice damages consumer trust in the market and increases the risk of counterfeit.  In contrast, the pre-owned market, is growing and provides liquidity to the luxury watch market and preserves value.

Luxury Jewellery

According to the World Gold Council, the US and the UK jewellery markets are amongst the largest on a per capita basis.  Gold demand in the US has grown at a CAGR of 2.9% since 2012 whilst the market in the UK has grown by a CAGR of 1.2%.  This has been driven by an increase in self purchase made by women as well as an increase in average order value. 

Sales of branded luxury jewellery, the segment on which the Group focuses, has been increasing within the overall market and is estimated to account for approximately 30% (source: McKinsey).

outlook

The Group believes the luxury watch market is underpinned by strong long term fundamentals and is well positioned for continued growth, despite the current challenges presented by global economic uncertainty and the COVID-19 pandemic.  A large proportion of the luxury watch market is supply constrained with customer demand remaining significantly higher than availability for many of the Group’s brand partners.  Despite the high levels of economic and socio-political uncertainty, the Group does not consider these factors to place a specific risk to its core operations.  The majority of sales are made to domestic customers, who maintain a high level of demand for luxury watches.

The Group continues to monitor the evolution of Brexit and to assess its potential exposure to the likely outcomes.  Whilst the Group remains mindful of the likelihood of increased economic uncertainty and potential slowdown from Brexit, it does not foresee Brexit itself as a specific risk.

RESILIENT LONG-TERM GROWTH IN SWISS WATCH EXPORTS

VALUE OF SWISS EXPORTS¹ TO THE UK

VALUE OF SWISS EXPORTS¹ TO THE US

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