Swatch Group sees change in demand in China, for less expensive pieces

Jaquet Droz Tourbillon

At a recent press conference, Nick Hayek, CEO of Swatch Group, the largest Swiss watch group indicated  ”very good with a double-digit growth ” for 2012. For China, which now represents 39% of its sales, or sales of 2.78 billion Swiss francs, Nick Hayek said “a very slight slowdown in growth” was observed during the first two months of the year. “Before, it was 50%, and we could not follow to meet demand, today we are at 15% is still high,” he said.

He said the Chinese “want to continue spending their money by buying Swissmade, but there is a shift in demand towards the middle range of brands like Longines and Tissot, at the expense of luxury.”

Concerning France, the Contracting Officer, Ms. Florence Ollivier said that sales had been “double-digit growth” in January-February. “This is the beginning of a promising year,” she said. Asked about Greece, Mr. Hayek said that the group “had licensed person since the beginning of the crisis,” although the situation is very difficult. “Our shop is open Omega in Athens, but it is also often closed because of protests, windows were broken, and watches were stolen,” he added.

In 2011, the group opened 100 new stores and outlets in the world, and in 2012, there should have as many, said Nick Hayek still. Mr. Hayek also reiterated that the group wanted to create over 1,000 jobs worldwide.

Swatch has released last year a net profit up 18.1% to 1.3 billion Swiss francs and sales up 10.7% to 6.8 billion. Swatch Group controls 18 brands over 4 different categories, including luxury brands Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Tiffany, Léon Hatot and Omega.

adapted from AFP