Jonathan Barker started The Watch Lab with £2000 savings, a Princes Trust-backed loan, and one member of staff. By 2015, this premium watch-repair business had 15 branches and 71 employees across the UK.
I knew I wanted to sell, but I didn’t know when
The Watch Lab had its roots in the North, and presence across the Midlands, but in 2011, the company opened its first outlet in the south east (Lakeside in Thurrock Essex). Then, the business secured a second southern prime location in Brent Cross Shopping Centre.
This was a tipping point. “The business had been running for 15 years. We’d opened in Glasgow, Southampton and London. We covered the whole country, and had built a new brand in the jewellery trade. Other companies had tried to do what we did, but hadn’t been successful.”
“We thought, ‘there can’t be a better time to sell’. We didn’t have to sell. We were exploring the opportunity, so we had a choice, which is a very good position.”
Company name – The Watch Lab™
Location – Head office in Preston; 20+ locations nationwide
Founded – 2000
Business activity – High-quality watch repairs, specialising in premium brands such as Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer, Longines, Tissot
Sold – March 2016
Acquirer – Aurum Holdings, owners of the Goldsmiths, Watches of Switzerland and Mappin & Webb brands