Richemont buy specialist Watchfinder

Luxury watches displayed at the Richemont Montblanc store in Beijing. Photo: Bloomberg

DURBAN – Swiss luxury goods group Richemont has said that it had reached agreement to acquire 100percent of the share capital of (Watchfinder), the leading online pre-owned premium watch specialist, in a private transaction with its shareholders, for an undisclosed amount.

The group said the transaction was expected to be concluded in the (northern hemisphere) summer of 2018 and would have no material impact on its consolidated net assets or operating result for the year to end March 2019.

It said Watchfinder had grown substantially in the past few years under the careful stewardship of co-founder Stuart Hennell, to become the leading platform to research, buy and sell premium pre-owned watches, both online and through its seven boutiques.

“In addition, Watchfinder operates a highly qualified customer service centre and employs 200 people worldwide,” the group said.

Watchfinder was first founded in 2002 in the UK, and it has established itself as the premier resource from which to buy and sell premium pre-owned watches.

It has thousands of watches available from more than 50 brands, including Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer and more, plus boutiques across the UK and a manufacturer-certified service centre.

Richemont chairperson Johann Rupert said the company that was started sixteen years ago by Hennell and his co-founders had foreseen the need for an online marketplace for premium pre-owned timepieces.

“Watch enthusiasts themselves established Watchfinder to provide excellence in customer experience.

“We believe that there are substantial opportunities to help grow the company further. Today, Watchfinder operates both as an online and offline business in a complementary, growing, and still relatively unstructured segment of the industry,” Rupert said.

He added that together with Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) and its stake in Dufry, the acquisition of Watchfinder is another step in Richemont’s strategy.

“It will enable us to better serve the sophisticated needs of a discerning clientele.

“We welcome Stuart Hennell and his team, and look forward to ensuring Watchfinder remains the compelling destination for premium pre-owned timepieces,” Rupert said.

Richemont acquired Yoox Net-a-Porter for 2.7billion (R39.87bn) for the remaining 49percent YNAP stake, a Milan-listed luxury e-retailer, early this year.

Richemont’s voluntary public tender offer for all ordinary shares of YNAP is expected to complete in June 2018.

Richemont owns a portfolio of leading international Maisons which are recognised for their distinctive heritage, craftsmanship and creativity.

The group operates in three segments: Jewellery Maisons, Specialist Watchmakers and other assets.

Richemont reported sales of 10.98bn for the year to end March, operating profit of 1.84bn and profit of 1.22bn.