Andrew Jennings dipped into his savings and put up as much personal finance as he could leverage to make his vision come true. In four short years, his Swiss-made watch brand, Larsson & Jennings has penetrated the luxury market in London and New York. Here’s how
Name: Andrew Jennings
Location: London and New York
Date launched: 2012
Number of employees: 35
What does your business do?
Larsson & Jennings is a Swiss Made watch brand reimagining classic design through contemporary craftsmanship and style.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I’ve been interested in watches since I inherited a vintage Rolex Daytona from my uncle in 1994. It was way too valuable for a 10 year old to wear but I remember being fascinated by the way it worked. Some years later, when I spotted an article in GQ on my exact model, I learnt of its worth and quickly put it away in a safe. While the watch stayed in the safe for many years until I could trust myself to look after it, my interest in watches, and in vintage models in particular, remained. That’s why I decided to go into watchmaking and how classic design inspired the Larsson & Jennings brand.
How did you know there was a market for it?
The watch market had for a long time been dominated by large conglomerates, but very few watch brands were catering for our younger demographic. I felt there was a space for an independent player to challenge the market. With this in mind we set out to create Swiss Made watches that were not only affordable but also pushed the boundaries in terms of their design.
How did you raise funding, and why?
The business was started on less than £10,000 of my own personal savings and as much personal finance as I could leverage. We have since grown purely through our own revenue stream and have taken no outside investment. This is something we are incredibly proud of and are working hard to maintain.
Describe your business model in brief.
We are taking a sustainable long-term approach to growth, using offline and online sales channels to target key international urban destinations, where we are confident our brand will have appeal. We have worked hard to preserve a sense of style for the brand, constantly tapping into the latest trends, and for that reason we are careful about the retail partnerships we enter. For me, it’s not about mass marketing, we want our product to be found in places that reflect our brand. That’s why in the UK, we are only stocked in the likes of Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty and Harvey Nichols, rather than larger mass-market stores, and we replicate this approach internationally. Yet still our own stores and website continue to account for the majority of our revenue stream.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
On 26 April 2012 we sold out first watch online. The website has gone on to prove the engine behind our rapid growth and ultimately through its success we were able to open our first store. Today the website still accounts for a significant proportion of our overall sales and plays a key role in connecting us with consumers across the globe.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Do not be scared to take risks. It’s much better to take carefully calculated risks than to have not done anything at all and be left wondering whether or not something might have worked. Many entrepreneurs limit their business’ potential by failing to step outside their comfort zone. So do your research and be confident in your business decisions.
My other advice is to stay focussed. I often meet entrepreneurs who are far too concerned with relative ‘quick wins’ or expansive plans to quickly diversify their companies before they are even established and dilute their message. Take your time and focus on what you do first and foremost before branching out into different things. Many of the world’s most famous businesses are built around a business model of doing one thing incredibly well and there’s good reason for that.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
CEO of the world’s most progressive Swiss Made watch brand – Larsson & Jennings.