Swiss watch exports dropped to their slowest pace in more than two years last month, with Swatch Group and Richemont both experiencing drops in their share price as a result of the news.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FHS) said the 7.9% growth that the industry had calculated against the month of April 2011 reflected a slowdown following an excellent first quarter for Swiss watch exports.
The 7.9% growth equated to CHF1.7 billion (£1.13bn), the smallest gain since January 2010.
However, despite this slowdown, April still achieved the highest value in absolute terms since the beginning of the year.
The value growth in April was mainly attributable to gold watch exports while bi-coloured watches also contributed, while steel products experienced their first fall in more than two years.
Bloomberg last week reported that the value of shares in Swatch Group dropped 2.9% after April’s exports figures were announced, while Richemont fell as much as 1.6%.
Jean-Daniel Pasche, head of the FHS, told Bloomberg Businessweek that the export pace could slow to single-digit growth in 2012, as Swiss watchmakers depend further on China to offset the drop in European consumption.
Last month exports to China climbed 27% while exports heading to Hong Kong rose 6.5%.
Both France and Italy exhibited declines in export figures, however.
The lower end of the Swiss watch market – those retailing between £330 and £1,995 – dropped 7.7%, while exports of high-end Swiss watches of more than £1,995 in value increased 16%.