Watch industry records best month in history

Luxury goods are selling again Keystone

Swiss watch exports reached their highest monthly value in the industry’s history in October, earning almost SFr1.2 billion ($1 billion).

This content was published on November 18, 2004 - 10:28

The record month pushes total export revenue for the year to SFr8.87 billion, an increase of nearly nine per cent on the same period last year.

The figures, from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, were released as luxury group Richemont announced a sharp rise in operating profits for its first half. Richemont earns half its revenue from watches.

Analysts say the watch sector is well on the road to recovery, and that makers can expect significant boosts in their share prices. Exports account for 95 per cent of the watch industry’s revenue.

Finished watches brought in most of the money, with sales rising ten per cent to SFr8.13 billion. The balance comes from watch movements.

Gold watches

Watches made of platinum, gold and steel were most in demand.

Since the start of the year, exports have been particularly strong in the industry’s two most important markets, the United States and Hong Kong. Sales grew by 12 and 15 per cent respectively.

By contrast, exports to Japan – the third-biggest market – dropped by 3.2 per cent.

Swiss watchmakers expect exports to rise by 6.4 per cent for the year as a whole.

Richemont, based in Zug, said a strong rebound in the luxury goods sector as well as a successful overhaul of its flagship Cartier brand boosted its operating profit by 157 per cent to €208 million in the first six months of its financial year.

The company said it had high expectations for the Christmas season, following sales growth of eight per cent in October.

Richemont’s chief financial officer, Richard Lepeu, said most of the growth had come from Europe and Asia, while sales in the US were flatter.

“Europe is back,” he said. “The improvement in the mood in the Europe has translated into higher sales.”

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Exports account for 95 per cent of the watch industry’s sales.
Luxury group Richemont earns half its revenue from watches.
Swiss watchmakers expect exports to rise by 6.4% for the year as a whole.

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