Swatch Group: Improved 2008 gross sales in a more challenging environment
After a promising start in 2008 with further strong growth, the year under review turned out to be more challenging. The turmoil and enormous destruction of wealth in the financial markets worldwide infected the economies of many countries, leading to cautious reactions mainly at wholesale level and in some parts of the world to a noticeable drop in watch demand in the last two months of 2008.
Despite these difficult and exceptional circumstances, the Swatch Group was able to increase overall gross sales by 4.3% at constant exchange rates. Foreign currencies were extremely volatile and ultimately had a total unfavorable impact on Group sales of CHF 233 million or -3.9%. In particular the Euro and British Pound, but also the USD and other dollar-related currencies weakened considerably against the Swiss Franc. Only the Yen regained some ground in 2008.
The gross sales figure of CHF 5 966 million topped prior year’s record result after a period of very strong sales growth between 2006 and 2007, resulting in growth of 22% over a two-year period. Once again, the Group’s core business activities, the segments Watches & Jewelry as well as Production, continued to be the main driving and growth factors.
The strategic move to reduce the exposure to non-core business activities such as components for the automotive industry, already initiated in 2007, proved to be a wise and timely decision. The Electronic Systems segment suffered from the difficult market conditions in other areas such as the telephone, automotive and machine industries.
The Board of Directors and the Executive Group Management Board are strongly committed to the Group’s clear, healthy growth strategy of broad geographical presence in all main markets of the world, its unprecedented positioning in all market price segments as well as its reliance on its highly integrated production and product development capabilities with its innovative research and technical know-how. In addition, the Group runs a very extensive and efficient distribution system in all important world markets with its own local management close to the end-consumers. The solid balance sheet and the past experience of more difficult market conditions are other key assets in this period. Over the years the Group has developed and steadily trained a high cost-consciousness and operates a dynamic pro-active style of decision taking adopting swiftly to new circumstances, conditions and opportunities.
Therefore, even though the Group anticipates a challenging environment particularly in the first months of the year 2009 and it expects that the confidence at the international level can be restored in the second part of the year, modest growth in 2009 over 2008 is our realistic expectation and planning. The Group will take advantage of interesting opportunities to gain market share and further strengthen its global presence. This fundamental confidence and the long term perspective of the Group is underpinned by the daily monitoring of continued consumer demand experienced in our own retail stores as well as the current size of the order books. January 2009 sales as well as orders for February and March confirm steady improvement in every month versus the trend of November and December 2008. It should be noted that the beginning of 2009 has to be compared with extremely successful record first months in 2008.Key Figures 2008 Sales (620 KB)