Watches of Switzerland logo on smartphone
Luxury watches revenue rose 5% in Q4 with demand for key brands remaining ‘strong’ / Image source: Adobe
  • Shares leap on trading update
  • Sales improve in final quarter
  • Chief executive expresses optimism

Watches of Switzerland’s (WOSG) shares surged 11% to 374.5p on a reassuring fourth-quarter update in which chief executive Brian Duffy said the high-end watch and jewellery retailer entered the new financial year with ‘cautious optimism’.

This followed a strong finish to the year to 28 April 2024, with fourth-quarter sales proving more resilient than feared in both the UK and US amid robust demand for key brands and an improving jewellery performance.

Previous news flow from Watches of Switzerland around a slowdown in luxury retail spending had hammered the share price.

This left many fund managers with red faces since the stock had been a favourite among professional investors running mid-cap portfolios, so the fact life isn’t getting worse was enough to trigger a substantial relief rally.

AHEAD OF CONSENSUS

Fourth-quarter sales ticked up 4% year-on-year to £380 million, ahead of the £375 million analysts were calling for, with the Rolex, Breitling and Audemars Piguet purveyor delivering continued market share gains on both sides of the pond.

‘We finished the year strongly, with Q4 sales in line with guidance and ahead of consensus,’ explained the no-nonsense Duffy. ‘Particularly pleasing was the performance in the US, with sales up 14% in the period.’

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Luxury watch revenue rose 5% in the final quarter with demand for key brands remaining ‘strong’.

The FTSE 250 firm also flagged a significant improvement in its jewellery performance. Jewellery sales were flat at constant currency, but this represented a sequential improvement on the 16% dip seen in the third quarter.

Watches of Switzerland, which recently announced the acquisition of Italian luxury jewellery brand Roberto Coin, also confirmed its ambition to more than double sales and adjusted EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) by the end of full year 2028.

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

‘We enter full-year 2025 with cautious optimism,’ stressed Duffy, with his charge guiding to full-year 2025 revenue of £1.67 billion to £1.73 billion, implying constant currency growth of 9% to 12%.

‘We have a terrific programme of showroom developments on both sides of the Atlantic with the Rolex flagship boutique on Old Bond Street, London; a 3,000 square foot Rolex boutique replacing the Mayors multi-brand in Atlanta, Georgia; and our first Rolex showroom in Texas in Plano. We are also looking forward to the Audemars Piguet Town House and the Mappin & Webb luxury jewellery showroom both in Manchester, and the expanded Patek Philippe space in Greenwich, Connecticut.’

Duffy added: ‘The inherent strength of the categories we operate in, coupled with our superior business model and retail expertise continues to set us apart.’

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Issue Date: 16 May 2024