ZURICH Jan 16 Independent Swiss watchmaker
Rolex expects demand for its timepieces to fall in 2009, its
chief executive was quoted as saying on Friday, as consumers'
appetite for luxury items wanes.
"Last year was an absolute record. We expect a decline this
year and in 2010," Chief Executive Bruno Meier said in an
interview with Swiss newspaper Le Temps.
"As watch export data shows, we all suffered a decline in
sales in the last two months."
Demand for Swiss timepieces slowed sharply in October and
November as consumers cut back on spending due to growing
worries about the prospect of recession and widespread job
Meier is optimistic about emerging markets such as China,
India and Brazil, where demand was likely to be solid, but Rolex
will sell less in the United States and Europe, he said.
Analysts have predicted that Swiss watchmakers would suffer
their first significant slowdown in five years in 2008 and have
painted a bleak outlook for 2009.
Shares in Swatch Group UHR.VX, which owns high-end brands
such as Blancpain, Omega and Breguet, and in Richemont CFR.VX
-- seller of Lange & Soehne and Jaeger-LeCoultre -- lost around
half their value in 2008.
"The well-known brands will suffer a bit but will survive
the turbulences. The ones who are in debt will have difficulties
and some of them will disappear," Meier said.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Katie Reid; editing by John