Bucherer has more than 100 stores worldwide and will continue to operate independently, keep its name, and sell other watch brands, Rolex said in a statement. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Rolex said the decision to buy the Bucherer business was made after the family controlling the retailer decided to sell, and based on a decades-long relationship between the two private Swiss companies.
The acquisition paves the way for Rolex to begin widespread sales of its watches in its own stores. There’s currently only one store in the world owned and operated by Rolex, in its home city of Geneva.
Rolex said relationships with its current retail partners, known as “official Rolex authorised dealers,” will continue unchanged.
Still, the acquisition will give the storied brand more control over the sale of its watches, both new and pre-owned.
Jon Cox, head of Swiss equities at Kepler Cheuvreux, said Rolex making a move into retail could have implications for listed sellers such as UK-based Watches of Switzerland Group and The Hour Glass in Singapore.
“At first glance, this is shocking for all of the other Rolex official dealers because Rolex has always said it is committed to independent retail distribution and has no desire to do own retail,” Cox said.
However, the company’s statement that the deal was done in part based on the long-term relationship with the Bucherer family could make the impact on other retailers “somewhat limited,” he added.
Despite making more than 1 million timepieces per year, and with more than CHF9 billion ($10.2 billion) in annual sales, demand for Rolex’s most popular models, such as the Daytona, GMT and Submariner dive watch, far outstrips supply.
Customers at authorised dealers are put on wait lists that can last months and even years for the most in-demand models.
The Bucherer acquisition marks the second significant shift in retail strategy for Rolex in less than a year. The company unveiled a program in December to issue certificates of authenticity for its used watches that are sold at authorised dealers, including Bucherer.
Rolex timepieces dominate the second-hand market, accounting for more watches bought and sold by value than any other brand.
Capturing the retail market and giving Rolex and its lower-priced sister brand Tudor a larger presence in stores is a “game changer,” said Oliver Mueller, head of Switzerland’s LuxeConsult, an industry consultant.
Source : SwissInfo