Six-year-old watch brand Olivia Burton acquired by Movado Group in £60m deal

Young Guns company will remain under control of founders Jemma Fennings and Lesa Bennet from London HQ

JLB Brands, the owner of Young Gun-founded watch brand Olivia Burton, has been acquired by US watchmaker the Movado Group for a reported £60m in cash.

Started just six years ago by Jemma Fennings and Lesa Bennett – who were jointly named haysmacintyre Top Gun at the Young Guns 2016 awards – Olivia Burton produces fashion and vintage-inspired watches for millennial women at affordable prices.

The company releases new collections every two months in order to keep pace with seasonal trends and added jewellery to its range in 2016.

Sold at leading UK retailers including John Lewis, Watchshop, Argento, Selfridges and Beaverbrooks, as well through a concession at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Circus store, Olivia Burton has also seen strong international growth in Australia, Japan, France and the Netherlands. As of January 2017, the brand was available in 117 Nordstrom stores in the US.

Olivia Burton has seen strong growth over the last year; revenue rose by 64% to reach £15m in 2017 and is already on target to hit £25m by the end of the fiscal year in March 2018.

The brand and its 33 employees will continue to operate under the leadership of Fennings and Bennet from its Shoreditch headquarters, reporting to Movado CEO Efraim Grinberg.

Commenting on the acquisition, Fennings said: “We’re thrilled to join Movado Group, which has the global scale and infrastructure required to support our vision for growth for the Olivia Burton brand. Movado Group shares our passion and relentless focus on innovation and this partnership will further strengthen the design of our watch and jewellery offerings and significantly increase our distribution around the world.”

Bennett added: “We are pleased that Olivia Burton will continue to operate with its current management team and employees, allowing the transaction to be seamless to our valued clients and business partners. We believe that Olivia Burton has tremendous opportunity for growth, and we look forward to becoming part of Movado Group to help the brand reach its potential.”

Grinberg stated: “I have much admired the spectacular job that Fennings and Bennet have done in building the Olivia Burton brand in the UK over the last few years and more recently with the beginning of its international expansion. While at accessible price points, they have kept the brand extremely creative, innovative and aspirational.

“They’ve also been building a very strong e-commerce business in the UK, which we believe has great potential for global expansion. With this acquisition, we not only reaffirm our commitment to the watch category, but also expand our presence into fashion jewellery.”

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