Reuters correspondent Silke Koltrowitz interviewed Ulysee Nardin President and CEO Rolf Schnyder and Audemars Piguet CEO Philippe Merk at the Global Luxury Summit in Paris earlier this month. Both men said their sales are increasing, and each has raised Eurozone prices as the Swiss franc strengthens against the euro. The franc has risen about 4.6 percent against the euro this year.
Schnyder told the Luxury Summit “We changed all our prices in the euro zone a week ago. We took an exchange rate of 1.40.” Merk said “Of course there’s the pressure to adjust pricing upwards in Europe. This trend is going to persist. We had to make a little adjustment in March. We increased prices by 4 percent.”
Commenting on global sales, Schnyder said U.S. sales turned positive at the end of 2009 and that the market is recovering strongly with sales up 35% in May against admittedly weak year-earlier figures. Schnyder said that China and Russia are also doing well. Schnyder expects UN sales to increase 20 to 25% this year.
AP’s sales were down about 10% last year, but the brand saw a 10% increase in the first 4 months of 2010. Merk said “The motor in this industry is the Chinese consumer. That’s certainly very positive. The second smaller engine I believe is Latin America, which showed excellent growth last year, a trend that continues to persist this year.” Merk also noted strong sales recoveries in the USA and the Middle East.
Commenting on the the impact of the European debt crisis on luxury watch demand, Schnyder said “I’m not so worried about it. It affects more the medium-priced brands because the middle class are the people who suffer the most.”
Merk sees the European market losing momentum over both the short and long term. “Europe compared to Asia and also the Americas has slowed down. I think it’s not only the euro, it’s the general economic climate which is not as strong as five or ten years ago,” he said. “We expect less growth from Europe in the future.”
Schnyder also addressed speculation that his independent firm might be acquired by one of the large groups such as LVMH, Richemont or Swatch Group. In a nutshell, he displayed the “Not for sale” sign, saying he expects the brand to remain independent. Schnyder said he has a successor to head the brand in mind, but did not say who it will be. Schnyder purchased the brand with partners in 1983 and has since served as its chief executive.
You can read an in-depth profile of Schnyder in .pdf format from WatchTime’s June, 2005 issue by clicking here.
Read the original Luxury Summit report on the Reuters website.