The German watch industry has achieved moderate worldwide growth in the last year with trade sales of €587million.
The figure shows a three percent rise on the previous year and exports accounted for a growing 69 percent of total sales, with France and Switzerland the country’s biggest customers. Orders from Hong Kong were steady whilst demand from USA and Japan dropped.
The domestic demand for lower priced watches dropped ‘radically’ while quality, mechanical pieces were still popular among German customers and particularly with visitors in tourist hotspots.
Growth in sales supported an identical growth of the industry with staffing levels across Germany’s 90 watch manufacturers increasing by three percent to 3,400 employees.
However total sales to the consumer within Germany amounted to €1.3billion (inc VAT) representing a 7 percent slide on 2012 sales.
“Shopping becomes more and more a leisure activity. The focus is not on goods supply but on fun, pleasure and entertainment”, says president of the Cologne-based BVJ trade industry, Stephan Lindner. “Buyers of high-quality watches and jewellery not only expect a pleasant ambience but also outstanding specialist advice and excellent service before and after the purchase. Good service is appreciated because the customer is prepared to pay for good performance.”
Consolidation within the Germany industry saw sales at retailers within rural areas drop by double digits and those in city centres flourish as suppliers and watch groups favoured prime location and own-brand outlets.
Lindner continued: “The scope for development is very large and a structural shift is noticeable. However, what characterizes the successful factories is the fact that their competence is clearly recognizable for the consumers. The offer of watchmaker services and goldsmith works in the own workshop is a convincing argument for many customers. In 2014, it will be decisive for the factories to communicate their own strong points successfully.”
Going forward German manufacturers will have the opportunity to exploit the trend for increased demand for niche, medium priced products in China, where German watch and jewellery brands are perceived as having a reputation for reliability and quality and consumers have begun to shun well known brands.