Swiss watch exports tumble ahead of Basel trade fair
ZURICHMar 23, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Mar 23, 2017 12:00 am
The world's biggest watch fair will open in Switzerland this week, even as slumping exports of luxury Swiss timepieces appear to dash hopes of a market rebound. Global exports of Swiss watches slid 10 percent in February to 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.5 billion, 1.4 billion euros), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FHS) said Tuesday.
The news cast a shadow over the looming Baselworld trade fair, which opened its doors to the media yesterday and to the public a day later. The giant gathering in the northern Swiss city of Basel is the highlight of the year for watch and jewelry makers, with hordes of retailers looking to fill their showcases with pricey bling. Investors had been hoping this year's 45th edition would open on a more positive note amid signs that the market was stabilizing and even on the verge of a rebound after two years of deep crisis.
Citigroup analyst Thomas Chauvet described Tuesday's export numbers as a "reality check." Exports to Hong Kong, the biggest market for Swiss watches, slumped 12.1 percent last month. And exports to the United States, the second biggest market, plunged 26.2 percent. Most European markets also fell, and sales to Japan tumbled 17.3 percent. Exports to China, however, rose 6.7 percent year-on-year in February.