x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Clock chimes for Swatch to expand in Abu Dhabi

The owner of the Omega and Longines brands as well as its eponymous brand is recording double-digit growth across the Middle East and North Africa.

Nayla Hayek, the chairwoman of Swatch Group, at the company's new high-end Breguet shop in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Christopher Pike / The National
Nayla Hayek, the chairwoman of Swatch Group, at the company's new high-end Breguet shop in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Christopher Pike / The National

The time is right for Swatch Group to expand in the UAE capital, according to the chairwoman of the Swiss watch company.

The owner of the Omega and Longines brands as well as its eponymous brand is recording double-digit growth across the Middle East and North Africa.

"[The growth is] comparable with the United States," said Nayla Hayek, the chairwoman of Swatch Group, which owns 18 brands that range from Flik Flak at the lower end of the price range to the ultra expensive brand Breguet.

"[Growth in] Asia is a little bit higher than the Middle East. But [here] it's for sure better than in Europe," she added.

Within the Middle East region, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the company's largest markets. And until now the focus in the Emirates has been on Dubai, but that is beginning to change.

"We have a lot of plans in Abu Dhabi," said Ms Hayek.

The group's new Breguet boutique opens today at Avenue at Etihad Towers and others are to follow, which will include Omega stores and multi-brand outlets with its partner, Rivoli Group.

"For the moment we have more new projects in Abu Dhabi than Dubai because there are more shopping malls coming up," she added.

Ms Hayek said low to mid-range brands like Swatch and Tissot do well in the UAE. But the high-end brands like Longines and Blancpain are the biggest.

"I have noticed that in the past few years, knowledge about watches has grown. … Now you have many more people asking about movements and how it is made, where does it come from and things like this," she added.

And this trend towards knowledge should also help to drive sales in the capital of upmarket brands that produce handmade watches.

"When we see all the projects going on in Abu Dhabi I think there will be big growth [for Swatch Group]… We hope Abu Dhabi will grow like Dubai."

gduncan@thenational.ae