The Watches of Switzerland Group – which operates in the UK as well as the US, and owns Watches of Switzerland, Goldsmiths, Mappin & Web, Mayors, Watch Shop, The Watch Lab – made their planned IPO on the London Stock Exchange today.
US-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management owned over 90 percent of the company before going public and has reduced their shares but still holds a controlling stake.
Brian Duffy, CEO of Watches of Switzerland Group said:
“Today’s listing marks the next phase in our growth story. I am delighted by the reaction we have received from the market to our business and the significant opportunities that lie ahead. I would like to thank our teams who have worked tirelessly to deliver our transformation. On behalf of all of our colleagues, I am delighted to welcome our new shareholders to the business and look forward to working with them as we continue to execute on our growth strategy.”
According to Duffy, a portion of the money raised from the stock offering will immediately go to paying down debt. He said it will also help as they expand in the US. In regard to the US market, Duffy told the Financial Times that it’s, “fragmented and dominated by smaller players who cannot fund the kind of investment in stores that we can.”
The US generated 23 percent of sales for WOSG last year, with the UK representing the other 77 percent. The company accounts for half of all new authorized Rolex sales in the UK.
A flagship WOS store at the newly constructed Wynn-owned Encore Boston Harbor resort is scheduled to open this summer. Another flagship store in the new American Dream mall in New Jersey is scheduled to open in 2020.
The first day on the London Stock Exchange went well with a closing share price of £270 British pounds (about $340 USD per share). This represents a market capitalization estimated at £647 million British pounds ($815 million USD).
We interviewed Brian Duffy earlier this year which you can read here.