Chinese watch sales move to mainland

Richemont says rising luxury watch sales in Mainland China mitigated continuing declines in Hong Kong and Macau

In signs the turbulence may be over for the beleaguered Swiss watch industry, Richemont says an improvement in watch sales in its own stores, together with strong demand for jewellery, helped sales grow 5 per cent in December – a figure higher than the market was expecting. The company’s stock price surged 9.4 per cent overnight as a result of its optimistic outlook on Chinese watch sales.

“The 10 per cent growth in sales in the Asia Pacific region reflected strong performances in Mainland China and Korea, mitigated by continued declines in Hong Kong and Macau,” the Geneva-based owner of brands IWC, Piaget, Cartier and Vacheron Constantin said.

Patrik Schwendimann, an analyst at Zuercher Kantonalbank, told Bloomberg the results suggest the worst is probably over for Richemont and fellow watchmaker Swatch.

“The likelihood that the Swiss watch industry will see growth in exports in the course of 2017 has increased. It’s reassuring that sales gained traction in the most important quarter of the year.”

Richemont has been buying back unsold inventory from retailers in Hong Kong as it tries to address falling demand there. 

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