(Corrects translation of quote in third paragraph to
"astonishingly well" from "incredibly well)
ZURICH Aug 26 Swiss watchmaker IWC, part of
Swiss luxury goods group Richemont CFR.VX, has outperformed
July's 26 percent drop in Swiss watch exports on robust demand
in Asia, the group's head was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
"China and the most important markets Hong Kong and Macau
are proving to be robust for us and are developing better than
we had feared a few months ago," IWC Chief Executive Georges
Kern was quoted as saying in an interview with Swiss newspaper
Business was going "astonishingly well" in the UK and
appetite for its timepieces was relatively strong in Germany and
France, but there had been a significant drop in Spain, Kern
Switzerland's watch industry is experiencing its strongest
drop in demand in around 20 years as consumers have cut back on
treating themselves to luxury goods, but there are some signs
that demand is starting to pick up again.
"Retailers ran down stock levels in the first half of the
year. Now we are hoping for an improvement. We remain cautious
and don't see any reason for euphoria. But the first signs of at
least a stabilisation are there," Kern said.
"We hope to emerge from the crisis only slightly bruised,"
IWC, which sits alongside brands like Vacheron Constantin
and Cartier at Richemont, is investing in China and India.
"By 2020, there will be 350 million people in China who are
in the position to buy a luxury watch," Kern said.
Richemont, controlled by South Africa's Rupert family, is
the world's third-largest luxury goods group behind LVMH
(LVMH.PA) and Hermes (HRMS.PA).
The group is searching for a new chief executive after
Norbert Platt said he would step down at the end of this year.
Kern said he did not want to comment on rumours that he
could succeed Platt, saying only that he was happy at IWC.
(Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Erica Billingham and Jon