Jean-Daniel Pasche, President of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry: Compared with 2009, when the industry was struggling, I think we can be highly satisfied with this reversal in trends. The industry is clearly recovering, as the figures you quoted confirm. Already, we’re in a position to say that 2010 will be a positive year for the branch.
We can hope that employment is picking up. Although we don’t have actual statistics for this, unlike the Swiss watch industry employer’s association, we are seeing companies hiring again. However, we need to be cautiously optimistic as many suppliers are still in a difficult position. Having said that, the industry is rebuilding its labour force.
As you rightly point out, last year does give favourable grounds for comparison. However, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the same type of analysis applies to 2009 compared with record exports of CHF 17 billion (€12.8 billion) in 2008. What I see is a return to a positive trend.
There is a gap between brands and suppliers in this kind of cyclic context. Suppliers are hit first, and when recovery kicks in, because brands give priority to their in-house resources, they also find it harder getting back into gear. There is no general rule though; it all depends on the type of activity and relations between the different parties.
Brands do need to maintain a balanced spread of sales, if only to minimise risks. China is growing fast but I think it would be a mistake to sink everything into the one market.
Just as I’m optimistic about the year-end, I think 2011 will also be a positive year for Swiss watches. There is nothing so far to suggest a slowdown in growth, which might not be as robust as it has been this year, coming back to the base effect we mentioned. However, let’s not forget that at end September 2010 we had already outperformed figures for 2007. In this light, the 2008 record might not be as out of reach as it may seem.