Chinese Swatch buyers show reluctance towards increased prices, CEO reveals – Reuters

Chinese Swatch buyers show reluctance towards increased prices, CEO reveals – Reuters

ZURICH (Reuters) – The Chinese market is likely to be difficult until the end of the year as consumers balk at higher prices, the chief executive of Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group (SIX:) said in a newspaper interview.

Nick Hayek, CEO of Swatch, told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung that China still has great potential, but consumers are waiting a long time to make purchases.

“They have also become more price sensitive, because in many areas there have been excessive price increases. I expect the Chinese market to remain difficult until the end of the year,” he said. Hayek said in the interview published this weekend.

Swatch makes high-end Omega, Tissot and Longines watches as well as the eponymous models in mass-market plastic. Hayek, whose family controls 43% of Swatch’s voting shares, was asked whether he wanted to delist the company.

“That would surely be best for the long-term development of the company. But unfortunately, going private is not possible without taking on massive debt,” said Hayek, whose sister Nayla is president of Swatch. “And we don’t like debt at all.”

The newspaper also asked the CEO if his nephew, Marc Hayek, who is to be elected to the company’s board of directors in May, would eventually replace him as CEO.

“We know that Marc is committed to the company, that he is passionate, that he does a great job and that he represents our company culture. But knowing if he really wants to lead this company at some point given or whether he has other priorities is another question.

“My sister and I will under no circumstances order him to take over,” he said. “It’s his decision.”



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