DUBAI // Sales at the Swiss watchmaker Carl F Bucherer this year are up about 20 per cent in the UAE because of a boost from the Dubai Shopping Festival and Chinese tourists. The surge was enough to put the region ahead of the rest of the world in sales growth for the company in the past two months, said Gregor Huni, the watchmaker's international sales director. "I don't assume that we will have the trend continue throughout the year like in January and February, in the region and globally," he said. "I think it was Chinese New Year, and we were strong in China. And here, we had more and more Chinese tourists coming."
The sales increase comes after a difficult year for the Swiss watch industry, during which exports dropped 22.3 per cent to 13.2 billion Swiss Francs (Dh45.27bn) last year. The UAE was hit harder, with imports of Swiss watches down 34.9 per cent to 438 million francs, but still remained in the top 10 markets globally. Mr Huni said sales across the GCC last year of the company's watches, which range in price from Dh6,000 to Dh750,0000, were down about 20 per cent as consumers became more budget conscious and the demographic of tourists coming to Dubai changed. "We have a different clientele now," he said. "The hotels have lowered their prices drastically, so suddenly we have cheaper tourists coming. These guys are not spending US$10,000 (Dh36,730) for a watch." However, sales this year have risen because of an increase in tourists for the Dubai Shopping Festival and more visitors from China, Carl F Bucherer's biggest market. Mr Huni said he expected 30 per cent of the company's sales in the UAE to come from Chinese tourists.
The company sold about 11,000 watches globally last year and aims to sell more than 13,000 this year. Mr Huni said it would be a year of consolidation locally, with a 50 per cent boost in marketing in the UAE and more staff training. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org