Swatch Group CEO: sales target will be a ”fight”

Swatch Group, world’s largest watch manufacturer, will have to work hard to achieve its goal of increasing sales this year to 8 billion Swiss francs (US$ 8,4 billion) from last year’s 7 billion, its chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.  Nick Hayek, chief executive of the world’s largest watchmaker, cited slowing growth in China and the euro zone crisis as the reasons for why hard work was needed.

“We still try to reach the 8 billion Swiss franc target, but we have to fight,” Hayek said on the sidelines of an event to mark the 150th anniversary of Swatch brand Longines.  Shares in Swatch turned negative on the news and were down nearly 1 percent at 378.4 francs by 0930 GMT, their lowest level since late July and underperforming a 0.1 percent rise in the Stoxx Europe 600 personal and household products sector index.

Owner of luxury watch brands Omega, BreguetBlancpain, Jaquet Droz, Glashütte OriginalSwatch Group is aiming for a new sales record in 2012, having beaten its sales goal in 2011 with a record 7 billion francs.

The Asia-Pacific region, mainly driven by China, is the fastest-growing luxury market in the world, buoying watch and handbag makers as shoppers in Europe, the world’s biggest luxury market, reduce spending due to the economic crisis. However, after figures showing China’s red-hot economic growth is cooling somewhat, signs are emerging of demand for ultra-pricey timepieces are diminishing. Yet booming demand for mid-priced watches in China is more than offsetting a cooling at the top end of that market, Swatch said in July.

Omega store, Guangzhou, China