PARIS — Swiss watch exports fell in September for the first time in more than two years, reflecting a sharp slowdown in growth in the key Asian market, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said on Thursday.
Foreign sales of Swiss watches in the month totaled 1.7 billion Swiss francs, or $1.84 billion at average exchange for the period, down 2.7 percent compared with the same period last year, it said.
“This poor showing, while rather sudden, follows more than 30 months of steady increase and is not therefore cause for concern. It confirms the expected slowdown in growth and aligns the industry with its general progression towards the projected annual target, which will remain well above the level attained in 2011,” the FHS stated.
It noted that Swiss watch sales were up 13.6 percent in the first nine months of the year.
The volume of exported timepieces fell by 2.1 percent relation to September 2011, largely due to a 10.7 percent drop in sales of watches costing less than 3,000 francs, or $3,190. By contrast, sales of timepieces costing more than 3,000 francs rose 3.7 percent.
Swiss watch exports to China fell by 27.5 percent, while Hong Kong posted a 19.9 percent decline. “These developments reflect sales figures on these markets over a period of several months, with growth clearly losing its momentum,” the FHS said.
Sales in the United States fell by 5.4 percent, but Europe was resistant, with Italy posting a 23.7 percent increase, Germany a 31.2 percent jump, and France a more modest 2.6 percent rise. Other growth regions included the Middle East, where sales were up 31.8 percent.
Thomas Chauvet, European luxury goods analyst at Citi Research, said the market was likely to read the data as a clear negative for hard luxury players like Richemont and Swatch, whose shares closed down 3.5 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, on Thursday.
“We were not surprised,” Chauvet said of the September watch sales figures.
“On the contrary, further normalization of exports is necessary to reflect weak sell-out in Asia and mitigate inventory risks. Exports to Greater China down double-digit finally reflect more accurately what is happening in the underlying demand and consistent with Golden Week sell-out trends,” he noted.
Chauvet said the question was how long destocking would continue.
In presenting its third-quarter results earlier this week, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton cited a slowdown in demand for watches and jewelry in Asia, with Europe still posting gains, partly driven by tourism. Overall, the division eked out organic growth of 2 percent. By region, sales of watches and jewelry were up 5 percent in the U.S., 12 percent in Japan and 18 percent in Europe.
Stripping out the impact of important high-end jewelry sales in the year-ago quarter, sales in Asia were roughly flat, LVMH said.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed luxury watch retailer Hengdeli reported in August that the growth of its retail business slowed down in the first half of the year, compared to the corresponding period a year earlier.
“This was mainly because the growth of the group’s overall sales was dragged down by subdued sales of high-end watches in the wake of the slowdown in China’s economic growth amid the global economic turmoil,” it stated.
In mainland China, where Hengdeli operated a total of 352 retail outlets as of June 30, “the group took initiatives to enhance management through continuous upgrading of the standards of outlet establishment and evaluation, timely adjustments to brand portfolio, optimization of its inventory structure and effective cost control,” it added.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye