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Friday, March 11, 2011

Swatch Group Sales So Strong it’s Having Trouble Meeting Demand

Swatch Group, the world's largest watchmaker, enjoyed double-digit sales growth in February, continuing the strong trend seen the month before, Reuters and other media outlets report. Even the immediate issue facing the Swiss-based company is show of its strength. It needs to hire more people and expand its production facilities because it’s facing difficulty meeting demand.

Swatch is looking to boost its workforce by up to 6 percent as it struggles to meet surging demand in most of its markets, the Financial Times reports (subscription required). The group, which employs more than 25,000 people, is looking to create 1,500 new jobs in production and distribution in Switzerland to address bottlenecks across its business.

“All segments see extraordinary demand and all markets, with the exception of Greece and Japan, are growing,” Hayek reportedly said Thursday at the group's annual results media conference. “Stock levels are very low at the moment.”

The big challenge in 2011 will be to satisfy the high demand for all its products, Hayek reportedly said, while acknowledging its hiring plans might be thwarted by a lack of qualified labor, the FT reports.

ETA, the group’s main maker of watch movements, needed 500 additional staff, the FT reports Hayek saying. It produces parts for many group brands, notably Omega, and third parties. The company will invest between 200 million and 250 million francs this year to extend its production capacity to meet demand from its core affordable Swatch product to its Breguet timepieces, according to reports.

Hayek has set a medium-term target for the company to achieve annual sales of 10 billion Swiss francs ($10.7 billion) and said he expected to reach this within three years without acquisitions, Reuters reports. The group’s sales in 2010 were 6.44 billion Swiss francs.

Last week, Hayek reportedly said in a newspaper interview the group was aiming for record sales of more than 7 billion francs in 2011, Reuters reports.

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