Watch Sales Down Again for Japan’s Big Three

Japan's Sales Results

Results for the fiscal year ended March 31 show that watch sales at Japan’s Big Three watch firms slumped for the second consecutive year as the Great Recession continued to suppress demand for mid-priced watches. Nevertheless, the watch divisions at Citizen, Seiko and Casio remained profitable. For the companies as a whole, only the Citizen Group reported a profit for year; Seiko and Casio both reported losses.


In the watch divisions, the hardest hit was Seiko, maker of Seiko, Pulsar, Alba and licensed brand watches; watch sales fell 31 percent to 64.5 billion yen ($693 million) for the fiscal year. Two years ago, Seiko’s watch sales totaled ¥117.2 billion. Since then, they have fallen a staggering 45%. Seiko now ranks third among the Big Three in terms of watch revenue. Seiko Holdings Corp. said operating income at its Seiko Watch Corp. subsidiary increased 38 percent to ¥2.2 billion ($23.6 million). Unlike Citizen and Casio, Seiko Holdings issued no statement discussing the financial results.


Watch and clock sales at Citizen Watch Co. fell 6.7 percent in the fiscal year to ¥123.6 billion ($1.33 billion). Regarding the Japanese market, Citizen said in a statement that “the slow recovery in consumption and other factors under prevailing economic conditions made for an exceedingly difficult sales environment especially for premium-priced products for the first three quarters of the year.” Overseas, sales in Asia, particularly China, were robust and far ahead of the previous year, Citizen said. “In the North American market, the largest for this business, difficult conditions continued through the first half, but gave way to a faster-than-expected market recovery in the second half and sales growth for Eco-Drive and other high value added products,” Citizen said. Citizen said sales at its Bulova Corp. subsidiary in the United States dropped for the year, although Bulova posted stronger second half sales “due to increased sales of mechanical watches and other differentiated products.”

Operating profit in Citizen’s watch and clock segment rose 7.1 percent to ¥9.7 billion ($104.2 million).


Sales of Casio Computer Company’s timepiece division fell just 2.8 percent to ¥78.1 billion yen ($839 million). “Sales of non-radio-controlled watches were affected by the harsh market environment in the first half,” Casio said in a statement, “but sales of radio-controlled watches were strong, particularly Casio’s high-value-added brands such as G-Shock, Oceanus, and Edifice.” Casio does not disclose the operating income of its timepiece division. Its overall electronics segment, which includes timepieces, reported a ¥19.9 billion loss ($213.8 million). However, Casio noted that timepieces “remained highly profitable.”

Watches represent only a portion of the sales of all three firms. At Citizen and Casio, watches outperformed other divisions. Net sales for Citizen Holding Co. Ltd. dropped 14.9 percent to ¥252.5 billion ($2.71 billion). Net income for the Citizen Group remained stable at ¥3.5 billion ($37.6 million).

Net sales for Casio as a whole dropped 17.4 percent to ¥427.9 ($4.60 billion). For the year, Casio reported a loss of ¥21.0 billion ($226.0 million). Casio said the primary cause of the loss was a sharp decline in sales of cellular phones.

Net sales at Seiko Holdings Corp. increased 33% to ¥230.7 billion ($2.48 billion). The increase, however, is due entirely to a reorganization of the Seiko Group in October that made Seiko Instruments Inc., one of the group’s two major manufacturing units, a subsidiary of Seiko Holdings. SII added ¥85.0 billion ($913.6 million) to Seiko Holdings sales. Without SII, Seiko Holding sales would have declined by 16 percent for the year. Seiko Holdings reported a net loss for the year of ¥3.6 billion ($39 million).


Big Three Watch Sales 2006-2010
(billion yen)

Citizen Sales
Casio Sales
Seiko Sales

Source: Citizen, Casio, Seiko

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