PROVEN VCTs REALISE STAKE IN WATCHFINDER AS PART OF RICHEMONT ACQUISITION
17 Jul 2018
Over the course of the investment, the luxury pre-owned specialist drove the development of the pre-owned market and grew to become the UK’s fourth largest watch retailer
London, 17 July 2018: The ProVen VCTs have completed the sale of their stake in Watchfinder.co.uk Limited (“Watchfinder”), the leading global platform for pre-owned premium watches, to Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods group. Watchfinder has spearheaded the development of the market for pre-owned luxury watches, delivering over £275m in sales since foundation.
Watchfinder, founded in 2002 by Stuart Hennell and Lloyd Amsdon, built one of the first platforms for watch enthusiasts to buy, sell and service pre-owned watches. Its leadership has built a substantial and loyal base of customers in the UK and it had scaled to become the country’s fourth largest watch retailer by 2018.
Traditionally, the secondary market for luxury watches has been informal and unreliable. Yet, global demand for pre-owned luxury watches has risen significantly in recent years and the market is now estimated to be worth $13bn.
Beringea, the manager of the ProVen VCTs, invested in Watchfinder in 2014 to support its ambition to harness this market opportunity and create an international platform for pre-owned luxury watches. Beringea offered strategic expertise alongside insights from its portfolio of retail investments to advise Watchfinder as it sought to scale its online platform, expand its retail footprint, and lay the foundations for its international presence.
Over the course of the investment, Watchfinder grew substantially and rapidly – turnover trebled between 2015 to 2018. Supported by Beringea, Watchfinder launched five boutiques during this period – providing valuable exposure for the brand and an important revenue stream that generated significant topline growth.
The pre-owned watch specialist – which sells and distributes beyond the UK through its online platform – is now well positioned to expand its international presence. The acquisition by Richemont will provide Watchfinder with significant opportunities for growth.
The acquisition has received regulatory approval from the Financial Conduct Authority. Beringea held its stake in Watchfinder through its ProVen VCTs. Piton Capital, a specialist investor in online platforms with network effects, co-led this investment with Beringea in 2014 and has also sold its stake as part of the acquisition by Richemont.
“Beringea backed Watchfinder when the team had spotted an opportunity to transform the watch industry,” Malcolm Moss, Founding Partner of Beringea, commented. “A relentless focus on creating an informed, reliable, and accessible platform for pre-owned luxury watches enabled the founders and management to carve out a market in a largely unstructured segment of the industry and build an exceptional brand in the process. This deal is recognition of Watchfinder’s pioneering approach and global potential.”
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Henry Philipson, Head of Communications, Beringea
Telephone: +44 (0)7837 162546
Beringea is a highly active growth capital investor with $715m under management and offices in the UK and US. It supports high-growth businesses with annual revenues of more than £1 million, investing between £1 million and £20 million to help companies scale. With a successful track-record of investments spanning 30 years, Beringea has more than 60 portfolio companies across its US and UK offices. The company has a history of strong partnerships with management teams, often reinvesting in its successful entrepreneurs. Its core areas for investment include digital media, business software and services, and consumer industries. With an extensive range of expertise across the team, and an ability for spotting and following opportunities, Beringea’s portfolio includes companies in a range of sectors, and its team continues to be at the forefront of emerging trends.
Established in 2002 in the United Kingdom, Watchfinder has grown organically under the careful stewardship of co-founder Stuart Hennell to become the leading platform to research, buy and sell premium pre-owned watches, both online and through its seven boutiques. In addition, Watchfinder operates a highly qualified customer service centre