NEWS: Rolex Acquires The Bucherer Group
The biggest watch retailer in the world will be owned by the biggest Swiss luxury watchmaker in an unexpected move.
Yesterday, Rolex announced that it would acquire the Bucherer watch retail network for an undisclosed sum. In a short press release, the two companies announced that the acquisition would not impact the retailer’s independent operation.
Bucherer is one of Rolex’s longest-running retail partners, having been an authorised platform for over 90 years. The company was founded in 1888 by Carl F. Bucherer, who also founded his own namesake watch brand. Jörg Bucherer is the last direct descendant of the family and a peer of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex. With no future generations to take over the business, Jörg Bucherer decided to sell his business. In order to preserve the relationship between the two brands, Rolex is acquiring the company.
Bucherer owns over 100 outlets globally, selling Rolex and Tudor among 31 other brands ranging from Garmin to Vacheron Constantin. It also has its own after-sales service centre for Rolex and Tudor watches. The retailer has stores in the United States and across Europe. It also owns Tourneau in the US. As the largest watch retailer in the world, it makes Rolex the biggest Swiss luxury watch brand as well as the biggest watch retailer globally.
This comes at a time when Swiss watch exports are slipping, mainly due to weak demand in China (-16.6% in July). Watch retailers across the world have also noted that the retail space is challenging at the moment. Watches of Switzerland UK has seen revenues dip by 8% in the UK and Europe in the last quarter, with watch sales down 2% and luxury jewellery by 15%. Right after the Rolex announcement, Watches of Switzerland’s shares sank by 29%.
There’s naturally speculation on what it means for Rolex to enter the watch retail space, something it’s never done before in 115 years. Rolex has always worked with authorised retail partners, with the exception of its own Geneva store. It also raises the question of whether more consolidations in the business will take place. However, Rolex insists that nothing will change in the operation of Bucherer’s stores and its existing relationships with retail partners in any market.
However, it does give the Bucherer group a huge cash infusion, which can be easily utilised to expand its presence. It also offers Rolex some insight – and, to some extent, control – into the pre-owned watch retail market, as Bucherer is a Rolex Certified Pre-Owned retailer. In fact, Bucherer was the first partner of the programme when Rolex announced it last year.
The deal is still pending approval from anti-competitive authorities; more details will be forthcoming.
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