Swatch’s 2019 Sales Weighed Down by Weak Hong Kong Market

FinancialsJan 31, 2020

Swatch’s 2019 Sales Weighed Down by Weak Hong Kong Market

The Swiss watch company lost $206 million in Hong Kong in the second half of the year alone.

A limited-edition 38 mm Seamaster 1948 Central Seconds timepiece, retailing for about $5,963. The Swatch-owned brand is the official timekeeper of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Biel/Bienne, Switzerland—Swatch Group reported a drop in sales in its full-year results as unrest in the Hong Kong market weighed heavily on its balance sheet.

Group net sales were down 2 percent year-over-year at constant exchange rates to 8.2 billion Swiss Francs ($8.5 billion) compared with 8 billion ($8.26 billion) in 2018.

In Hong Kong, where Swatch operates more than 90 stores, the drop in second-half sales amounted to 200 million Swiss Francs ($206.4 million).

A Swatch representative said the company would not be disclosing its full-year losses in the region, but a “double-digit decline” in sales was reported in its first-half results.

With the exception of Hong Kong, the company reported growth in all regions.

The watches and jewelry division, which includes brands like Longines and Tissot, accounted for 8 billion Swiss Francs ($8.26 billion).

Sales in its retail stores were up 2 percent for the year, despite reducing its store count by 60.

Net income fell 14 percent to $748 million Swiss Francs ($772 million) compared with $867 million Swiss Francs ($894.8 million) a year ago.

The operating margin was down to 12 percent from 14 percent in 2018.

Swatch reduced its workforce by 3 percent to 36,100 employees.

Its research and development division filed 231 patent applications, nine percent more than in 2018.

Looking ahead, the company said it expects “healthy growth in 2020 in all markets in local currency,” with the exception of Hong Kong, and said the currency situation will “remain challenging.”

Swatch also highlighted Omega’s upcoming participation in the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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