Watches of Switzerland is increasing its U.S. presence by acquiring four jewelry stores and one watch store, in what it calls its “largest expansion” since it first entered the American market in 2017.
The five stores are: a Ben Bridge Jeweler store in the Mall of America in Minneapolis; Timeless Luxury Watches in Plano, Texas; and three Betteridge Jewelers stores—in Greenwich, Conn.; Vail, Colo.; and Aspen, Colo.
Combined, the five acquired stores bring in about $100 million in annual revenue and have 75 employees.
Watches of Switzerland also plans to open a new location in Kenwood, Ohio, in 2022.
These five acquisitions bring the company’s U.S. total to 36 stores in 12 states—14 of which are monobrand boutiques. In addition to its six Watches of Switzerland–branded stores (including its new two), it also owns the 13-store Mayors jewelers chain, which it purchased in 2017, as well as used timepiece retailer Analog Shift, which it acquired in 2020.
The Ben Bridge store in the Mall of America and Timeless Luxury Watches have already been rebranded as Watches of Switzerland stores. The acquisition of three Betteridge Jewelers will be completed within the next few months; the stores will keep their name for the immediate future.
“We haven’t made any assumptions about the business as far as what we’re going to do with it,” says David Hurley, executive vice president of Watches of Switzerland USA. “We want to listen and learn, similar to when we took over Mayors.”
As part of this deal, Terry Betteridge, CEO of the family chain—and the fourth generation of his family to head it—will act as an adviser to the three acquired locations. One Betteridge store, in Palm Beach, Fla., is not included in this deal and will remain under the control of the Betteridge family. (That store formerly belonged to another historic jeweler, Greenleaf & Crosby; Betteridge acquired it in 2006.)
Hurley expects that Watches of Switzerland—which went public in 2019 on the London Stock Exchange—will continue to expand.
“If there are the right opportunities, we would look to do further acquisitions in the United States,” he says. “We believe in the U.S. market. We still believe that the U.S. market, in timepieces in particular, is under-penetrated versus the potential that we see.
“We are by no means perfect today, we have plenty to learn, we are only in 12 states. When we acquire businesses like Betteridge, we learn more.”
In its latest financial results, for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022 (ended Oct. 31), Watches of Switzerland posted 167.6 million pounds (about $227.2 million) in U.S. sales, a 50.2% increase over the prior year, and a 66% increase over the same pre-COVID period two years ago.
Top: The former Timeless store in Plano, Texas, post-rebranding (photos courtesy of Watches of Switzerland)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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