Swatch sales wind up ahead of forecasts

Swatch sales wind up ahead of forecasts
Photo: Khalid Mahmood
The world's biggest watch group Swatch reported on Thursday that sales in 2012 rose by 14 percent from the 2011 level, beating the most optimistic expectations in the industry.

The watchmaker said in a statement before its full results next month that it had achieved 8.1 billion Swiss francs ($8.8 billion) in sales in 2012 as Swiss watch exports soared.

Swatch, most known for its brightly coloured plastic-cased watches, thus beat its own sales expectations for the year as well as those of analysts polled by the AWP financial agency, who had expected a 7.9-billion Swiss franc sales figure.

"The group will once more outperform Swiss watch exports," Vontobel analyst René Weber said in an analysis note.

That is no small feat, as Swiss watch exports during the first 11 months of 2012 rose 4.5 percent year-on-year to reach a record 19.63 billion Swiss francs, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said last month.

Swatch, based in the northwestern town of Biel, said its watch and jewellery division, which comprises most of its activities, had seen sales swell 15.6 percent to 7.2 billion Swiss francs in 2012.

Swatch Group, which is also Switzerland's biggest producer of timepiece components, meanwhile posted a 10.1-percent jump in sales in its gauge and component production unit to 2.2 billion Swiss francs.

The company management was also upbeat about the remainder of its 2012 results, and said it expected "healthy growth" in 2013, without going into details.

The key numbers are scheduled to be published no later than February 21, according to Swatch, which often publishes its results in advance of its scheduled posting date.

In an interview published by Swiss daily Le Temps last month, Swatch chief Nick Hayek said he expected the entire Swiss watchmaking industry to post growth of between five and seven percent for 2012.

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