PARIS — Swiss watch exports continued to rise in April, albeit at a slower pace than in the first quarter, growing 11.5 percent year-on-year to 1.2 billion Swiss francs, or $1.12 billion, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Friday.


“Watch exports in April returned to their 2007 level,” the federation stated, saying that over the first four months of the year, the sector posted a rise of 16.4 percent versus 2009.


The increase in April was driven by timepieces at both ends of price spectrum, with the middle segment of wristwatches priced from 500 to 3,000 francs, or $469 to $2,813, seeing unit sales stagnate compared with the same period last year.


Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the period.


China confirmed its position as the leading growth market, with a rise of 150.2 percent on the month, while the United States progressed by a modest 1.6 percent and Germany saw sales slide 15.2 percent.


Switzerland exported 1.8 million wristwatches in April, with gold and steel timepieces posting the strongest gain – up 82.9 percent in value terms.


Dennis Weber, luxury goods analyst at Evolution Securities, said the figures showed growth was spreading more evenly across all price categories after benefiting mainly cheaper products at the start of the year.


“The double digit growth achieved is more than we currently forecast for hard luxury goods in the full year, so today’s release for a continued outperformance is encouraging,” he said in a research note. “This includes the most expensive segment and lower priced categories and therefore provides a positive read-across for more premium players, such as Richemont and Bulgari, as well as more broad priced portfolios, such as the one owned by Swatch.”

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