Jan 26, 2017
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Aurum watch and jewellery giant sees wider losses

Jan 26, 2017

The owner of some of the UK’s biggest watch and jewellery retailers has seen losses growing ahead of what is widely expected to be a sale of the firm.

Aurum's chains are the UK's biggest sellers of Rolex watches

Jewel UK Midco, the parent of Aurum Holdings, which owns Watch Shop, Watches of Switzerland, Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb, saw its pre-tax loss in the year to May 1 2016 reaching £20.2m. That was almost double the £10.8m loss of a year earlier.

But sales rose a healthy 21.5% to £454.5m, boosted by shoppers from outside the UK and the group’s investment in revamping its stores.

And gross profit on an EBITDA basis was £31.38m, up from £28.2m a year earlier. The company said the EBITDA figure “provides additional useful disclosure” as a measure of the group’s performance.

One thing that figure is useful for is assessing how much the company could be sold for with current estimates of around £300m. It was earlier revealed that the 148-store retailer could be up for sale. US private equity firm Apollo is believed to have appointed advisor Jefferies to look at the possibility of an auction for the firm.

The company which also last year acquired The Watch Hut and The Watch Lab, has seen its sales continuing to rise since the end of the financial year and recently said that the post-Brexit vote weakness of the pound had bolstered its sales figures in London.

While tourists have helped push sales of higher-price watches upwards, it is unclear how long the Brexit bounce can last. International brands across the fashion and wider luxury sectors have said they want to harmonise prices in Europe to avoid London leeching sales from other key cities.

In watches, both Rolex and Omega have adjusted their prices and with Aurum being Britain’s biggest seller of Rolex watches, this could hurt sales in the months ahead.

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