General Meeting of Swatch Group

“I feel a sense of pride, as Chair of the Board of Directors of Swatch Group, in being able to report on a successful year in 2017, and to look forward to an even more promising 2018!”. Nayla Hayek wore a beaming smile at the General Meeting of the watch industry’s world number one conglomerate, held in Grenchen on May 24th.

Addressing the 3,500 of so shareholders present, she confirmed renewed growth in all areas. Net sales stood at 7 billon 960 million Swiss francs, up 5.4% compared to the previous year, while net profit increased by 27.3% to 755 million Swiss francs. The kind of results achieved through the group’s massive investments in innovation and R&D, a fundamental aspect that Nick Hayek was keen to underscore.

The entire board of the Swatch Group welcomed its shareholders to the Tissot Velodrome amid a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The Chair had barely begun speaking when a hearty “bravo” rang out from the audience. An interruption that Nayla Hayek immediately picked up by emphasising that she took the compliment as addressed to herself, but also and above all for the group’s 35,400 employees worldwide. The business upturn in 2017 was naturally received with enthusiasm. “The Watch & Jewellery segment posted 6.9% growth”, she pointed out, before adding: “What is even more interesting in my opinion is the fact that growth reached 12.2% in the second half of the year and even 14.9% in the fourth quarter – an acceleration fully confirmed in December with the second-best monthly sales in the history of the Swatch Group!”

CEO Nick Hayek was keen to point out that this upswing is continuing in 2018, a recovery partly due to the overall economic climate, but also made possible by the group’s considerable investments in development. He insisted that “Innovation is possible here too, not just in the Silicon Valley”. A number of new watchmaking introductions, as well as the recent inauguration of Omega’s new production unit – “the most modern industrial facility in the sector” – were of course mentioned as examples. Moreover, the group’s second segment, involving electronic systems, also plays a key role in the strategy – and particularly the field of batteries on which substantial efforts are focused. Renata, a Swatch Group company specialising in lithium batteries “made strong progress thanks to the development of a new high-capacity cell, which helped drive a very significant sales increase in this segment”, reads the group’s annual report. The rechargeable button cell sector, used in medical applications or wearable systems, also experienced continuing growth.

“Swatch Group is one of the world’s companies working hardest on batteries”, said Nick Hayek, “and particularly for the automotive industry”, as Nayla Hayek immediately pointed out. Belenos Clean Power, which is 51% owned by the Biel/Bienne-based group, is indeed working on the development of vanadium batteries that are 30% more powerful than the cobalt batteries currently used. According to experts, this rechargeable car-battery market could reach 36 billion dollars by 2027.

June 07, 2018