* Says entry, mid-price watches growing dynamically in China
* High-end segment growth in China slowed to 2-5 pct
* Sees 5-7 pct growth potential for industry in 2013
ZURICH, Dec 8 Growing sales to 8 billion Swiss
francs ($8.56 billion) this year is still possible for the
world's biggest watchmaker despite the negative impact of the
weak dollar, Swatch Group Chief Executive Nick Hayek said in a
newspaper interview published on Saturday.
"We said it was our goal to reach gross sales of 8 billion
Swiss francs this year. We can still get there even if the weak
dollar gives us less flexibility, it is not really helpful," he
told Swiss French-language newspaper Le Temps.
Swatch Group had sales of 7.1 billion francs in 2011 and
Hayek has warned several times that reaching the 8-billion mark
in 2012 would be challenging due also to slowing growth in the
important Chinese market and to the euro zone crisis.
Hayek said in the interview watches in the entry and
mid-price segments were still showing dynamic growth in China
and had never really dipped, while high-end growth rates had
fallen to 2-5 percent.
Swatch is present in all price segments, including entry and
mid-level with brands such as Swatch, Tissot and Longines, while
peer Richemont specialises in high-end luxury watches.
Hayek said five of its brands would next year generate more
than one billion francs sales, versus three this year, without
naming them. Swatch Group's strongest brand, which is estimated
to generate over 3 billion francs sales, is Omega.
Asked about the growth prospects for the Swiss watch
industry next year, he said: "Our industry has become less
cyclical. ... Growth potential for the sector is about 5-7
percent next year."
Hayek said Swatch Group would end the year with around 1,000
additional jobs in Switzerland versus 2011 and would continue to
focus on training young professionals.
($1 = 0.9344 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; editing by James Jukwey)