Swatch expects good times to last

Swatch Group, the world's biggest watchmaker, expects its sales to increase at a high single-digit rate during 2012, Chief Executive Nick Hayek has said.

This content was published on March 2, 2012 and agencies

The watch industry as a whole has been one of the biggest success stories of the Swiss business landscape during the economic downturn, recording a 19 per cent increase in exports last year.

In common with other watch makers, Swatch has benefitted from a pronounced surge for its products in Asia and other emerging markets. Powerful economic growth in these areas has boosted consumer confidence, and an appetite for quality brand products.

The performance of Swatch is keenly observed as a barometer for the rest of the Swiss watch industry. And Hayek forecast further impressive growth for the remainder of this year.

"We make a prediction there will good growth in 2012 for the Swiss watch industry; 5 per cent to ten per cent. That's phenomenal for an industry growing at that rate every year," said Hayek.

He added that the company, whose brands include plastic Swatch watches, as well as its high-end Breguet and Omega, had recorded double-digit growth in January and February, but he warned against expecting the same growth for the whole of the year.

He said on Thursday that demand had been good in the US and he was also upbeat about China, the Middle East and Russia.

The group has already reported an 18 per cent gain in 2011 profit as Chinese consumers bought more Omega and Breguet timepieces. Net income rose to SFr1.27 billion ($1.4 billion) from SFr1.07 billion a year earlier, the Biel-based company said in early February.

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