May 25, 2024

THE director of a booming watch company says the time is right to join a popular management programme.

Mathew Pemberthy will be among the next cohort attending the prestigious New Leaders qualification in Aberystwyth, part of the ION Leadership series.

Typically, aimed at firms in north west Wales – in conjunction with Bangor and Swansea universities – the course is 70% funded by the European Social Fund via Welsh Government and has transformed the lives of hundreds of delegates over the last four years.

Beginning in May, this is the first time it has been held in Aberystwyth.

Now a director of Watch Obsession in Aberystwyth, Mathew turned his back on higher education to join the family business, working his way up from the packing room to oversee a major review of its digital strategy, having previously implemented a new warehouse process.

That move helped them to grow into one of the leading independent purveyors of watch straps and luxury timepieces in the country, employing 10 people and planning for the unveil of a new website in the coming weeks.

Dad Gary had previously taken part in Bangor University’s predecessor programme, LEAD Wales, and says it had a positive impact on the direction of the firm.

Mathew is confident ION will have the same effect and looks forward to beginning the programme in May.

“When I began, I was packing watch straps and helping with orders, before working in pretty much every area of the business,” said Mathew, a former pupil at Ysgol Penglais, Ceredigion.

“That has stood me in good stead for my new role as a director, as I know every part of the company and what the issues are when they arise, and how best to deal with them.

“With experience I’ve become more confident but I’ve never had any formal management or industry training, so I’m really looking forward to taking part in ION and learning from people in other industries to help me fill those gaps and move forward.”

Mathew’s academic background in business management influenced the decision to expand the online retail side of Watch Obsession and explore international sales.

Gary is the driving force, but Mathew’s attention to detail and innovative ideas have helped take operations to the next level.

“We started selling watch straps on eBay but have become much more commercially-minded online,” said the 27 year-old.

“We later set up an e-commerce website and then introduced Shopify, which has worked incredibly well for us and been a big hit with customers.

“In the last 30 days we’ve had up to 40,000 visitors to the site from all over the world, so it is growing and growing all of the time.

“More than 80% of our sales now come via the website; it’s an area we are focused on and I’m sure a market we can further tap into. We’ve also seen a lot of return customers so it’s evident they trust us and the service we provide.”

Mathew added: “Being on the ION Leadership course will enable me to gain advice from the speakers and fellow delegates about sales and marketing and other techniques which will benefit Watch Obsession, and I’m sure I can do the same for them in return.

“We have big plans for the coming years including an increased presence and profile overseas, future proofing the business and bringing a new focus that will set us apart from the rest.

“We can’t wait to get the ball rolling on that, and I’m eager to get started on the ION Leadership programme so we can improve even further.”

Gwenllian Owen, ION Leadership Programme Manager, congratulated the team at Watch Obsession for their success and said the course will certainly reinforce the foundations they have laid over the last decade.

“Our incredible speakers and seminars have had a major impact on many businesses and business people, so I’m sure they will be of great benefit to Mathew in his new role as director,” said Gwenllian.

“It’s great to see a family business from Aberystwyth making its mark at home and overseas, so we look forward to welcoming him and finding out more.”

For information or to register for the ION Leadership programme, which is up to 70% funded by the European Social Fund, visit the website: