A LUXURY watch business upped sticks from Henley-on-Thames and moved to Scotland because of its political outlook earlier this year, and is now closing in on its long-held ambition to assemble timepieces on these shores.

Marloe Watch Company made headlines when it revealed that Brexit had been a key factor in its decision to relocate to Perth in February, with its directors noting then that a Scottish

base “sits better with our values as a pro-Remain organisation”.

Now, having made that initial move, it is gearing up to flit again, only this time no borders will be crossed. Marloe announced last month that it will be one of the first tenants at a £1 million creative hub planned for Kinross, and will move into the one-time farm on the banks of Loch Leven alongside Studio LBA, the architect that designed it.

“It’s going along very nicely,” said Oliver Goffe, who co-founded Marloe with Scot Gordon Fraser. “All planning has been sorted, [and] the building has started. We are on target for, I believe,

an April move-in date.

“We have wild plans once we are in to bring in some apprentices and start assembling as quickly as we can, so we are really excited with this move. It is something we have been planning for over a year.”

While Marloe is moving closer to assembling watches in Scotland, the actual manufacturing will continue to take place in Switzerland and Japan.

“There’s not a lot of watchmaking

that goes on in the world,” Mr Goffe said.

“The leading watchmaking countries in the world are Switzerland, Japan, China [and] Germany. In Scotland, there are maybe two brands that would assemble a watch, and that is what we are looking to do next year.

“In the watch industry, when you talk about manufacturing, people get very pernickety about it. They want to know where the movement was manufactured, and movements are only really manufactured in Switzerland, Japan and China.

“No one in Scotland – not a single brand – is manufacturing in Scotland.”

Asked why movement manufacturing does not take place in the UK, Mr Goffe said there are talented watchmakers here “but that does not necessarily mean they can manufacture a watch”.

He added: “The biggest hurdle is the engineering, the actual facility to manufacture components.

“Manufacturing a watch movement is an incredibly challenging process.”

The Marloe philosophy is to design watches that do not rely on cheap components, while marketing them at accessible price points. This it partly achieved by eschewing the expensive marketing route favoured by big brands.

“Neither of us have a watch background,” Mr Goffe said. “We just want to make products that have real value, and don’t cost the earth.”

There are two price points the company targets, sub-£500 and sub-£1,000. The first have Japanese mechanisms and are completely assembled there, while those in the more expensive bracket are Swiss-made.

So far, Marloe has launched six collections, based on one round of manufacturing per year. However, it is looking to up the manufacturing frequency, and has scheduled three rounds for next year.

In the past, Mr Goffe noted, Marloe’s ability to introduce new collections has been dictated by cash flow. But the frequency of launches is also determined by the creative process and the success of getting new designs to the stage when they are ready to hit the market. Sales are made exclusively through the company’s website.

“We have spoken to retailers. I feel it is much easier to control the consumer journey when you are managing all aspects of that,” Mr Goffe said.

“When I have spoken to re-sellers, it tends to be a bit of a one-way street. You have to abide by their rules, you need to offer them sale or return, and there isn’t really a partnership there.”

Marloe is on track to turn over around £900,000 in its current financial year, which ends in April, after sales “sky-rocketed” during the first lockdown as consumers shifted to online shopping.

On the subject of Brexit, Mr Goffe said a no-deal departure would result in the firm having to invest extra time and resources in handling the 25 per cent of its orders that are currently generated within the European Union.

“That’s just challenging for any business, whether you are a watch business or not,” he said. “That is our biggest concern.

“There are benefits, actually, to a no-deal Brexit for the customer, in that we do not charge VAT to anyone else outside the EU.

“They pay tax in line with their country’s import rules, so they do not pay any VAT, therefore the price they pay us would be less.”

One thing that is clear is that Marloe has absolutely no regrets about coming to Scotland.

“We have only been in Scotland a little over six months, and I could not believe the reception we have had,” Mr Goff said. “It has been so, so positive.

“Our Scottish customer base has gone through the roof. I think the story and the move has really resonated with a lot of people in Scotland.

“To be assembling in Scotland next year would be a very powerful message.”