Covid-19: Online sales exceeds expectations for Watches of Switzerland

Watches of Switzerland has seen online sales surge by 45.8% year-on-year in the six weeks up to 26 April 2020, a period impacted by the closure of its UK and US stores due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

The retailer said that its eCommerce performance during the crisis had exceeded expectations, adding it has included additional brands in its online offering that were previously only available in stores. These brands will continue to be available for customers online going forward. The recent growth in online sales was especially pronounced in April, increasing by 82.8% year-on-year.

In a pre-close trading update, Watches of Switzerland reported a group revenue increase of 15.8% across both the US and UK in the 46 weeks to 15 March 2020, as Covid-19 struck. This was helped by a strong eCommerce performance in this period, with sales rising by 15.9%.

The Covid-19 crisis substantially impacted its momentum in the following six weeks, however, with group revenue growing at a much lower rate, by 5.9%, to £819.3 million, across the 52 weeks up to 26 April 2020.

Brian Duffy, CEO of Watches of Switzerland commented: “Despite the current challenges, demand for luxury watches has remained strong with online sales performance ahead of our expectations. Through our longstanding partnerships with the most prestigious Swiss watch brands, we have further enhanced the online customer experience with the introduction of additional brands which we had previously only transacted in our stores.”

As well as helping it navigate the current crisis, eCommerce looks set to be a vital part of the luxury watch retailer’s strategy for recovering its business as lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted.

Duffy added: “As we look ahead to a post lockdown environment, we are anticipating a prolonged period of lower traffic, particularly in airports, with ecommerce, CRM and clienteling continuing to gain importance.”

Watches of Switzerland also said it has undertaken cash preserving and cost-saving measures to help it mitigate the impact of its store closures.