By Silke Koltrowitz
ZURICH – LVMH’s luxury watch brands Hublot and Bulgari have pushed sales above 2019 levels in the past year and more growth is expected this year on strong U.S. demand, company executives told Reuters ahead of LVMH Watch Week that kicks off on Monday.
Hublot and Bulgari, alongside LVMH stablemates Zenith and TAG Heuer, are holding LVMH Watch Week online, with digital presentations of their latest collections.
Hublot is showing an extra-slim version of its Big Bang watch, while Italian jeweller Bulgari has Serpenti Misteriosi watches which are hidden in snake-like bracelets and rings.
The Serpenti watches, which can cost as much at 240,000 euros ($271,464.00) for the most expensive models, are powered by a new miniature Piccolissimo mechanical movement.
Swiss luxury watch sales declined sharply in 2020, when the pandemic shuttered shops and curbed tourism. But they bounced back last year, with Swiss watch exports slightly above 2019 levels at the end of November, thanks to strong demand in the United States and China.
Switzerland’s full-year watch exports are due on Jan 27, the same day luxury goods group LVMH reports full-year results.
“2021 was a good year, we did better than in 2019,” Hublot Chief Executive Ricardo Guadalupe said in an interview on Monday, highlighting 30% sales growth in the United States and “excellent numbers” in mainland China.
“We obviously won’t see the same strong rebound between 2021 and 2022, but we believe we’ll have solid growth.”
He also said that tourist shoppers were still largely absent and that supply chain issues, mainly due to workers sick with the Omicron variant, had caused production delays that would hopefully be resolved by the summer.
Bulgari Chief Executive Jean-Christophe Babin told Reuters the brand had also done better last year than in pre-pandemic 2019 thanks to market share gains.
“We want to continue with this positive trend in 2022,” he said, adding new yellow gold models should help to attract U.S. consumers who are fans of that type of gold, while Asians tend to prefer rose gold.
“The United States became our second-biggest market last year and it has one of the best growth rates currently,” Babin said.
Kering, the other big French luxury goods group that competes with LVMH, said on Monday it was divesting its Swiss watch brands Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin.
($1 = 0.8841 euros)