Luxury caution

Watches of Switzerland hit by wealthy spending switch

Brian Duffy: volatile conditions (pic: Watches of Switzerland)

Luxury retailer Watches of Switzerland says it has been affected by wealthy consumers switching their spending to fashion, hospitality and travel, but is encouraged by the prospect of a VAT-free shopping returning.

The upmarket retailer said group revenue in the third quarter declined year on year by 1% to £397m, and in the UK and Europe by 7%. US consumers continued to buy luxury goods, with sales up 8%.

It was “encouraged” by the UK Office for Budget Responsibility’s review of VAT free shopping for tourists but had not included its reintroduction into its guidance.

Today’s update comes weeks after the luxury brand issued a profits warning, prompting a near-30% fall in its shares. At the time, chief executive Brian Duffy, described trading conditions as “volatile”.

The company said rebranding, colleague training and systems conversions had been completed on schedule for the 15 showrooms acquired from Ernest Jones .

There is a further roll-out of the Mappin & Webb contemporary format with refurbishments in Glasgow and Bluewater.

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