CVC Capital Partners could sell a substantial minority stake in Breitling SA, one of the last independent watchmakers in Switzerland, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday (Sept. 3).
The private equity firm is considering the sale after interest from potential investors. CVC plans to keep control of the watchmaker in any deal that would benefit future growth and is seeking a long-term partner for Breitling, according to sources cited in the article.
CVC representatives declined to comment on the matter. Deliberations are said to be still in their early stages.
Breitling is known for its aviation-themed watches and traces its roots to the work of watchmaker Leon Breitling in 1884. While many large Swiss watch brands have been acquired by competitors, Breitling has remained independent.
CVC purchased a major stake in the company in 2017 for $952 million, and has since simplified Breitling’s range of products. Also, CVC has expanded Breitling sales in Asia and campaigned to make watches that appeal to women as well as men, Bloomberg said.
Exports of Swiss watches have recently begun to reach their pre-pandemic levels, thanks in part to demand from consumers in China and the U.S., citing figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
As PYMNTS reported last month, luxury brands are trying to recover in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research by Bain & Co. found that the luxury industry shrank by around 20% in 2020, with personal luxury goods sales declining by 23%, the first drop in more than 10 years. In May, Bain predicted that the market could return to pre-pandemic levels later this year, an improvement from its earlier prediction of a 2023 rebound.
However, it’s worth recognizing that the delta variant could still throw a wrench into things. PYMNTS surveys in the past several months have found consumers less and less optimistic about when life will return to “normal,” with many seeing the “end” of the pandemic happening in the early part of next year.