Best known for its Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland shops, and online platform Watch Shop, this group says it sells just under half of all the Rolexes sold in the UK. Next year marks the centenary of it becoming the first British seller of the brand.

The company was formed in 2006 by the merger of Goldsmiths, founded in 1778, with Watches of Switzerland and Mappin & Webb and was subsequently bought by asset manager Apollo in 2013 for £180m. Chief executive, Brian Duffy, 64, joined in 2014 from Ralph Lauren, where he ran the Europe, Middle East and Africa operations. Since then, he has been expanding the group via acquisitions, the largest of which was US chain Mayors Jewelers last year for $105m (£80m). The move helped boost sales 21% to £685.2m in the year to April 2018, with profits rising 36% to £37.1m.

Timepieces account for about 80% of overall revenue, with jewellery accounting for more than 12%. In April, the company raised $265m through a bond issue, with a part of the proceeds being used to refinance existing loans and the rest to add to its financial firepower. In June, the company said it was continuing to work with its owners and advisers on strategic options for the business, including a possible listing. As part of this process, it changed its name from Aurum Holdings in August to reflect the company’s focus on luxury timepieces from the likes of Rolex, Cartier and Omega, and appointed Dennis Millard, 69, as its new non-executive chairman. Millard is a non-executive director at listed companies Superdry and Pets at Home, having previously served as chairman of Halfords and Connect Group. With so much afoot, it’s an exciting time for The Watches of Switzerland Group.

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Company details
Year2018
Rank1
CompanyThe Watches of Switzerland Group
ActivityJewellery & watch retailer
LocationLeicester
Sales £m*685.2
Operating profit £m*37.1
Main shareholders

Apollo (>50%), management (<50%)

Staff2,015
Founded1778
Websitewww.goldsmiths.co.uk

If applicable:

* supplied by Company   † annualised figure   ‡  profit = ebitda