The British-based retail group behind jewellers Goldsmiths and Watches of Switzerland has picked two banks to spearhead a stock market listing.
Sky News has learnt that Aurum Holdings has appointed Goldman Sachs and Barclays to help add sparkle to a public listing that is likely to take place in London sometime next year.
The plans, which are being led by Aurum’s owner, Apollo Global Management, are at an early stage, and could prompt fresh expressions of interest in acquiring the company more than six months after a previous round of talks was terminated.
Aurum, which also owns the Royal Warrant holder Mappin & Webb, could be worth more than £600m, according to some retail analysts.
It accounts for just under half of all Rolex sales in the UK, and will mark its centenary as the first seller of the world’s most-famous watch brand next year.
The company, which is run by chief executive Brian Duffy, a well-regarded former Ralph Lauren executive, is enjoying the fruits of a successful expansion into the US following the acquisition of Mayors Jewelers for just over $100m.
In April, the company raised $265m through a high-yield bond issue led by Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies and Wells Fargo.
Aurum is the leading multi-channel retailer of luxury watches in the United Kingdom, with a 36.4% market share by value of total sales in 2017.
It is also the largest luxury watch retailer in Florida, as measured by number of agencies for the distribution of luxury watches, and has distribution relationships with manufacturers including Breitling, Cartier and Patek Philippe.
Sources said Apollo was leaning towards a listing in London, although Zurich had not been ruled out as a possibility.
Sales in the UK were boosted by a post-EU referendum bounce as an influx of foreign tourists lured by the weak pound fuelled demand for premium watches.
The company, which was bought by Apollo in 2012, trades from approximately 150 stores, including prime retail sites in central London, and employs more than 1,000 people.
It also operates an online platform called WatchShop, which had a one-third share of the UK online market for fashion and classic watches in 2016.
“Brexit has been hugely beneficial,” Mr Duffy said in a newspaper interview after the Brexit vote.
“There are undoubtedly more tourists, and they’re looking to spend, because they’re confident in the value they’re getting.”
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News of Apollo’s appointment of bankers to help Aurum go public comes weeks after Richemont, the luxury goods house, snapped up Watchfinder, a British-based company, for an undisclosed sum.
Apollo could not be reached for comment.