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Swatch results rise to record levels

Nicolas Hayek's group aims to expand its luxury watch brands

(Keystone)

Switzerland's largest watchmaking group, Swatch, posted record profits of SFr651 million ($385 million) last year, an increase of nearly 48 per cent on 1999.

Sales for 2000 grew by 17,6 per cent to SFr4.26 billion ($2.52 billion), the company said in a statement from its offices in Biel.

The results exceeded analysts' forecasts, which predicted a rise in profits of around 39 per cent.

"The driving force behind the growth in the finished watches sector has been provided by the top luxury segment," the group said. Sales in the sector rose by more than 30 per cent.

Strong growth among the Swatch-owned brands Breguet, Blancpain and Omega "considerably reinforced [the] market position in the top-range and luxury price segments."

Despite the stock market turmoil on Wednesday, the group said it had "positive expectations" for the current year. It's anticipating an increase in sales of between 10 and 15 per cent.

Most analysts think Swatch will be able to achieve its sales target, though they say it may come in at the lower end of the range. The downturn in the US and negative economic developments in Japan are expected to dampen business.

But in its statement, Swatch said it would work to expand its luxury watch brands and jewellery collections.

The group also said it would "open further retail outlets in the form of single-brand stores, in particular for Breguet and Omega, a first multi-brand store in the top-segment under the name of 'Tourbillon'."

Finally, Swatch is turning to the Internet and setting up an e-commerce site in the United States.

swissinfo with agencies


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