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Watches of Switzerland chairman to step down

Published
Sep 3, 2020
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Dennis Millard, the chairman of UK luxury group Watches of Switzerland, has announced he will not seek reelection to the board at the upcoming annual general meeting.


Watches of Switzerland


The former CFO of a range of British businesses has held the role since October 2018. He will step down on 14 October, with Tea Colaianni, senior independent director, expected to take over as interim chair.

Watches of Switzerland, which in August announced encouraging results for the 13 weeks to 26 August despite the pandemic, said external consultants at Spencer Stuart have been hired to lead the search for a new chairman.

Known briefly as Aurumn Holdings before rebranding as Watches of Switzerland, the group owns several retailers of high-end timepieces and jewellery including Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths in the UK and Mayors in the US.

“In the two years I have chaired the company it has seamlessly and efficiently transitioned from private to public ownership, has put in place effective governance structures and has built a strong and supportive shareholder base following the highly successful IPO in June last year,” Dennis Millard said.
  
“The group has continued to grow robustly and navigated the Covid-19 lockdown with great skill, emerging stronger than ever.”

CEO Brian Duffy added: “I would like to thank Dennis for his direction and guidance as our group transitioned into public ownership. Both the IPO and the demands of listed company status were new to me and my team and Dennis's counsel and advice, delivered with a firm hand and a fair degree of charm, were invaluable.”

Despite the challenges caused by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the group has continued to trade strongly over the past few months. It is a luxury specialist that relies heavily on store sales, but first-quarter revenues were ahead of management expectations. And sales started picking up again in June and July when stores were allowed to reopen. 

Still, there will be new challenges to keeping sales numbers up. Ongoing travel restrictions have meant travel retail sales were down by 93% in the 13 weeks to 26 July. Only moderate improvement is expected over the rest of the year, but the company said domestic demand has remained strong in the US and UK.

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