TAG Heuer sees single-digit sales growth this year

Tue Nov 5, 2013 1:48pm EST
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By Silke Koltrowitz

CHEVENEZ, Switzerland (Reuters) - Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer expects single-digit sales growth this year and is aiming to outperform market growth estimated at about 5 percent in 2014, its head told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We're expecting to be in positive territory for the year as a whole," Stephane Linder, who took over as chief executive from Jean-Christophe Babin this summer, told Reuters on the sidelines of a factory opening in western Switzerland.

"Next year, Swiss watch exports could realistically rise about 5 percent, and we'll outperform the market," Linder said.

Swiss watch exports rose a mere 1.9 percent in the first nine months of 2013, depressed by lower demand in greater China, where retailers sat on too much stock, and a sluggish recovery in the United States, the two most important markets.

Linder said sales were slightly down so far this year in North America, where TAG Heuer, owned by LVMH (LVMH.PA: Quote), generates about a fifth of sales.

"But we're gaining market share on the $5,000 to 10,000 segment, that is encouraging," Linder said, adding sales trends in the United States and Canada had turned positive in September and he hoped to see a real rebound in the second half of 2014.

TAG Heuer, which sits alongside Hublot, Zenith, Bulgari and Chaumet in LVMH's watch and jewelry division, is aiming to double production of mechanical chronograph watch movements to about 100,000 per year by 2016 thanks to the new factory.

The brand, known for its chronographs, or mechanical watches with a stopwatch function, also on Tuesday revealed a new chronograph movement called the Calibre 1969, helping it towards greater independence from largest player Swatch Group UHR.VX, which sells movements to peers such as Richemont CFR.VX, LVMH and independent family-owned brands.   Continued...

The Tag Heuer production machine is seen in their new watch manufactory in Chevenez November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich