BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor in growing businesses, has invested £6.25 million into Christopher Ward, the Maidenhead-based premium British watch brand, to accelerate growth.
Founded in 2005 by Mike France, Chris Ward and Peter Ellis, Christopher Ward has grown to become the UK’s leading direct-to-consumer watch brand, with customers in more than 100 countries. Christopher Ward creates high-quality timepieces that combine British style and innovation with Swiss watchmaking skills. The brand specialises in mechanical and quartz watches, that are designed in the UK and manufactured in the home of horology, Biel, Switzerland.
The brand is a leading innovator in the British watch industry and this year marks the fifth anniversary of the creation of the brand’s own in-house Swiss-made movement, Calibre SH21. Christopher Ward’s current watch collection includes dress, dive, aviation and motorsport watches, as well as a collaborative collection with British car maker Morgan.
With a head office in Maidenhead and a workshop in Biel, Switzerland, the business now employs 45 people, processing 22,000 orders per year and generating sales of £10.5m. The £6.25m investment from BGF will support Christopher Ward’s long-term growth strategy, providing the capital and resource to expand the watchmaker’s market presence and product lines.
Mike France, CEO and co-founder of Christopher Ward, said: “Our raison d’etre at Christopher Ward, the reason we get out of bed every morning, is to work towards giving as many people as possible the opportunity to experience the visceral pleasure of owning a finely-crafted, hand-built premium watch.
“We’ve made great progress in 14 years, establishing really solid foundations and feel the time is now right to 'spread the Ward' to even more people worldwide.
“The team at BGF understood this, are as excited as we are about creating a truly great brand and business and we are delighted to have them as our partner for the next phase of the journey.”
James Austin, an investor at BGF who will join the board of Christopher Ward, said: “We’re really pleased to be joining the team at Christopher Ward, a fantastic example of great British entrepreneurialism, becoming a truly credible player in the luxury watch market over the last decade. With a simple mission and a focus on producing quality products at fair prices, it has developed a strong track record and reputation among its loyal and growing customer base.
“We’re looking forward to working with an experienced team to build Christopher Ward into a globally recognised brand. The South East of England is teeming with ambitious businesses like this and we’re excited to welcome another company from the region into the BGF portfolio.”
The investment was led for BGF by James Austin, Daniel Tapson and Elliot Vickerstaff.
The advisors to the transaction were:
Ernst & Young (Tax)
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP (Legal)