PARIS — Switzerland's Swatch Group, the maker of Omega, Swatch and Breguet watches, said "outstanding" double-digit growth in Asia, and the Middle East drove its full-year sales ahead by a better-than-expected 17.6 percent.
Swatch, whose other brands include Jacquet Droz, Blancpain and Glashutte Original, said unfavorable currency exchange rates and rising raw materials costs had "squeezed" margins for the year.
But it said it expected to report "above-average" increases in operating profits and net income for 2007. Meanwhile, Swatch predicted that strong market conditions for high-end watches would continue this year.
"Despite the current wave of turbulence in financial markets, [Swatch] expects the positive trend to continue," the company said, predicting double-digit growth for January.
Extraordinary demand for high-end watches over the last few years has driven growth at most luxury Swiss timepiece manufacturers. Since many of the most complicated — and coveted — pieces take months to produce, demand often has exceeded supply.
The Swiss Watch Federation reported exports of Swiss-made timepieces grew 17 percent in November, with exports of luxury pieces growing even faster.
Swatch said sales of its watch and jewelry division last year gained 20.4 percent to 4.71 billion Swiss francs, or $3.93 billion at average exchange rates. Though growth was exceptional in Asia and the Middle East, Europe and America also "recorded solid double-digit growth in sales," Swatch said.
Demand for movements from outside companies contributed to a 20.9 percent rise to 1.68 billion Swiss francs, or $1.4 billion, in sales at Swatch's production division, while sales at its electronic systems grew 6.2 percent to 630 million Swiss francs, or $525.6 million.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast