Bulgari CEO sees 2014 Swiss watch exports grow 5-10 percent: paper

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A view of the newly-built ten-storey flagship store of the Italian jeweller Bulgari called "Bulgari Ginza Tower" (L), Cartier Ginza building (top R) and Chanel Ginza building in Tokyo's Ginza shopping and amusement district December 30, 2007. REUTERS/Issei Kato

ZURICH (Reuters) - Growth of Swiss watch exports could accelerate to 5-10 percent next year, Jean-Christophe Babin, new chief executive of Italian jewelry and watch brand Bulgari (MC.PA), was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Macroeconomic indicators are improving and destocking at watch retailers is coming to an end, Babin, who moved from watch brand TAG Heuer to jeweler Bulgari this summer, said in an interview with Swiss French-language newspaper Le Temps.

"I'm expecting a rather rapid improvement from the beginning of next year. For the year as a whole, we can reasonably expect 5 to 10 percent growth in Swiss exports," he said.

Swiss watch exports have slowed considerably this year due to weakening demand in the greater China region, their biggest market. They were up 1.1 percent during the first eight months of the year. Export data for September is due on Tuesday.

Babin also said it was one of his priorities to strengthen Bulgari's core jewelry business by increasing the brand's offer in precious and semi-precious stones and in products with diamonds while at the same time enlarging the range of accessible products.

"The cake keeps getting bigger. And, distinct from watchmaking, there are no supply shortages, except for extraordinary precious stones," he said.

TAG Heuer and Bulgari are both owned by the world's biggest luxury goods group LVMH and compete with Swatch Group's (UHR.VX) and Richemont's (CFR.VX) watch and jewelry brands.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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