LONDON — Watches of Switzerland opened for trading on Thursday morning at a valuation of 647 million pounds on the London Stock Exchange. It priced its shares at 2.70 pounds each, near the upper end of its expected price range of 2.50 pounds to 2.77 pounds announced on Tuesday.
“We had been anticipating it to be honest,” said Brian Duffy, chief executive officer of Watches of Switzerland Group, referring to the share prices. “We got a great response from the investor community and I think we’re quietly confident about what we were doing. Having said that, it’s a relief to actually see it happen and see our name up there and a plus rather than a minus.”
The luxury watch retailer said that 34 percent of its issued share capital will be floated immediately after admission to trading and it will be trading under the ticker “WOSG.”
The first priority for the company will be to cut debt with the 155 million pounds that has been raised. “The first priority is to repay a bond. So overall less debt, which will be a good situation for our business and going forward, selling down 15 percent of the holding, but we’re not specifically doing it to raise money for investment at this point,” said Duffy.
The IPO will also strengthen the company’s position in the luxury watch market. “It gives us a very good status, ownership structure and stability. It gives us a profile and overall a long-term nature to the business” he said.
The retailer will also be focusing on expansion in the U.K. and the U.S. market. It has spent 80 million pounds on capital toward store facilities as well as in technology and marketing, and the company will continue to do so according to Duffy.
“The U.S. offers limitless growth, more than we can handle and it offers what we are looking for by way of expansion at the moment. We also have growth plans in the U.K., we’ve had a great moment of 9 percent like-for-like for five years and we plan on continuing that,” he said.