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Luxury Watch Retailer Chronext Plans IPO Amid Online Boom

This content was published on September 10, 2021 - 09:52

(Bloomberg) -- Chronext AG plans to list on the Swiss stock exchange as the online luxury-watch retailer enjoys a boom in demand led by younger generations.

The company plans to raise about 250 million francs ($273 million) and existing shareholders plan to sell an unspecified amount of additional shares, the company said in a statement. The selling holders will also make existing stock available for a possible over-allotment comprising as much as 15% of the shares sold. 

Founded in 2013, Chronext is a marketplace that sells both new and second-hand watches, mostly from third-party distributors. Proceeds from the initial public offering will be used for technological investments, to grow the product offering and to expand into new markets, such as the U.S. and Asia, via potential M&A deals. The company’s business is mainly focused on Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

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With stock markets at records, a slew of European companies plan to carry out IPOs on the heels of the busiest half-year ever for listings globally. EQT is said to be lining up its chemicals business Azelis for an initial share sale and considering an IPO of skincare business Galderma, people familiar have told Bloomberg. 

Chronext’s sale is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, subject to market conditions, the company said.

Paradigm Shift

The luxury watch market is still mostly a physical affair with only 5% of sales happening online, McKinsey said in a report in June. The consultancy forecasts the share will increase to as much as 15% by 2025.

“There’s a fundamental paradigm shift with online becoming a very important channel,” co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Philipp Man said in an interview before the announcement. “The best is yet to come since Generations Y and Z have an appetite for such products” sold online.

Chronext had sales of 101 million euros last year and has yet to post a profit as it’s focused on investing in the business, Man said. It had a compound annual growth rate of about 104% since its first full year of operation and 47% since 2018. 

The platform, which handles the authentication process, can help customers get their hands on scarce products faster as it procures from multiple sources. The top three selling models in the first half of this year on Chronext were Rolex’s Datejust, Omega’s Seamaster and Rolex’s Submariner. The Datejust sells for at least 4,250 euros.

Lounges

Although primarily an online business, Chronext offers 11 physical locations in its main markets where customers can pick up their time piece. These “lounges” tend to be located in offices and help drive trust and convenience, he said.

Chronext’s shareholders include venture capital firms as well as Man and co-founder Ludwig Wurlitzer, who own a combined stake below 30%.

Evercore Inc. is financial adviser to the company while Jefferies Financial Group Inc. and UBS Group AG are leading the IPO. Bank of America Corp. and Deutsche Bank AG are also involved on the share sale.

(Adds advisers in last paragraph)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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