This story is from the 2014 Access 25. Explore more from this issue
Luxury small business, worldwide jobs

Bremont Watches’ Time Has Arrived

Bremont has brought luxury watchmaking back to the UK — and created jobs all over the world while they’re at it.

January 2014

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Luxury small business, worldwide jobs

For Bremont founders Nick and Giles English, it’s a story that starts in the sky.

After all, that’s where their father, Dr. Euan English, spent much of his time as they were growing up. Dr. English was a Royal Air Force pilot, aeronautical engineer and owner of a historic aircraft restoration business. He was a born tinkerer — a passion that Nick and Giles quickly grew to share.

“As kids,” Nick notes, “we spent a whole lot of time in the workshop making things.” Over time, Nick and Giles grew to become expert pilots in their own right and partners in the family’s aviation business.

Then, one day in early spring 1995, the course of their lives was irrevocably altered. While Nick and his father were practicing for an air show in their WWII Harvard, the plane ran into engine problems and failed to recover. The result was a horrendous accident: Dr. English died at the scene and Nick suffered life-threatening injuries.

Bremont watch
Like many luxury goods brands, Bremont has a firm toehold in the Caribbean and the United Arab Emirates, especially in Dubai.

Committed to triumphing in the wake of tragedy, Nick and Giles went back to their engineering roots, eventually founding Bremont in 2002. Their goal: reinvent the British luxury mechanical timepiece. From aesthetics to functionality, Bremont watches would be pieces of precision equipment equally at home on the wrist of an executive or a fighter pilot.

Great Timing

Establishing a small business is challenging enough, let alone navigating the complexities of watchmaking in the hyper-competitive world of luxury goods.

Nick and Giles were fortunate enough to get early help from Walpole, a U.K.-based small-business incubator that pairs up-and-coming luxury brands with mentors from across the British business landscape. Nick and Giles were connected with Andrew Gosheron, Vice President of Field Sales Europe, FedEx.

Importing watch components for handcrafting and exporting finished watches internationally is a complex endeavor. With Gosheron’s guidance, Nick and Giles were able to smoothly manage customs and turn their attention to customer service and delivery — critical for a luxury brand.

Bremont ships its high-end timepieces everywhere from Shanghai to San Francisco using FedEx International Priority®, which means they don’t have to worry about customs holdups. Shipping in the U.K. is handled with FedEx Next Day, an overnight service that bolsters the Bremont brand’s high-end image. For behind-the-scenes logistics, including creating labels and online billing, Bremont uses FedEx Ship Manager® at fedex.com/gb.

“It’s not just about getting the product out the door,” Nick says. “It’s about putting things in place that will save money and time down the road.”

Growth You Can Set Your Watch By

Bremont moved into a new headquarters in Oxfordshire in January 2013, where they now employ a staff of 40, including 15 watchmakers. Good watchmaking jobs such as these haven’t existed in the U.K. for generations.

“We’re essentially building a skilled workforce in the U.K. from scratch,” says Sarah Weare, Bremont’s global marketing manager. Weare puts Bremont growth at a 50 percent annual clip.

Like many luxury goods brands, Bremont has a firm toehold in the Caribbean and the United Arab Emirates, especially in Dubai. They also just opened their second branded boutique in Hong Kong, and are now moving aggressively into the U.S. by selling through a network of highly prestigious, independent retailers and building strategic brand partnerships.

“We’ll have quite a lot going on in the States in 2014,” Weare says.

As for Nick and Giles English, they’re still grateful for everything FedEx did to get their brand airborne. As Nick notes, “If I didn’t know Andrew [Gosheron], I don’t know how much of this would have happened.”

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