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Smooth sailing Swatch CEO optimistic amid market concerns

Hayek said that many of the increasing number of tourist customers in Interlaken are from the Middle East and Asia.

(Keystone)

Despite worrying July export figures for Swiss watches, and competition from the growing smartwatch sector, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek anticipates robust sales.

On Thursday, a 200 metre-squared Swatch store - the largest in Switzerland - was officially inaugurated in Interlaken on the same day the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported a 9.3% overall drop in Swiss watch exports, and a 21% drop in exports to Asia.

But Swatch CEO Nick Hayek is not fazed. In fact, he says the new store is selling up to 1,000 timepieces a day, and hopes it will bring in CHF 15-17 million ($16-18 million) annually. The new Interlaken location was actually first opened in May, but the building could not be closed for a ribbon-cutting ceremony until now due to the brisk business, much of which comes from tourists visiting the Jungfrau area.

The complete picture

Hayek told Le Temps on Saturday that the Federation’s report did not represent the complete picture, because it did not distinguish between supplies to subsidiaries, effective sales to agents, or units sent temporarily for an exhibition. Hayek told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that Swatch’s sales had actually improved since July 2014. “Even with the bad exchange rate we are doing better,” he said, referring to the removal of the franc-euro exchange rate peg in January. “If we reported in euros, it would be a double digit sales increase.”

Hayek also told the Tages Anzeiger on Friday that the rise of smartwatches like the Apple iWatch did not worry him.

“We do not ignore smart technology,” he told the German-language newspaper in reference to the newly launched Swatch Touch Zero One, “but we don’t have to say yes to every megatrend in herd mentality…We make watches, not computers for the wrist.”

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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