Message from the Chair

Swatch Group - Cité du Temps
Swatch Group

Message of Nayla Hayek, Chair of the Swatch Group Board of Directors, on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting of May 8, 2024, in Biel (BE), Switzerland.

The original spoken text (in German) is valid.


Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear fellow shareholders

Once again this year, I would like to welcome you virtually as, despite our best efforts, we were unable to find a suitable venue in the immediate vicinity to accommodate the steadily increasing number of shareholders (an increase of approximately 20% since the last Annual General Meeting).

Fortunately, the city of Bern has a project under construction for a very large festival hall on the BEA site, which should be completed in the spring of 2025. We have reserved this new infrastructure for next year’s AGM and we look forward to – hopefully – being able to welcome you there in person next year for the Annual General Meeting, provided, of course, that we do not have as large an increase in the number of shareholders as we did last year.

Once again this year, all shareholders who have given their vote to the independent proxy or who vote themselves and are resident in Switzerland will receive our special limited edition AGM Swatch.

As you can see from my introductory remarks to the Annual Report, the 2023 financial year again developed very positively for our Swatch Group despite the strong Swiss franc and the many conflicts and uncertainties worldwide.

In addition to the figures with the financial results, which Mr. Kenel will present to you shortly, I would also like to highlight the emotional side of this success. Every success, every challenge overcome, and every hurdle surmounted represents an important stage on our common path. The world is full of conflicts that fuel uncertainty and make the Swiss franc dangerously strong. However, we at Swatch Group are not letting this divert us from our long-term strategic path. We remain fully committed to Swiss Made, to innovation – over 180 new patents were added in the past financial year – and to a strong presence with our own stores in all of our markets. When hundreds of thousands of men and women around the world queue up to buy our products, as they do at Swatch, it fills every employee – from apprentice to manager – with pride, and everyone identifies with the company. This is the very definition of a company’s culture.

However, the Group considers that its task is not only to generate more sales and profits in the short term, but also to create jobs and thus open up positive, long-term prospects in the regions in which we operate. In Switzerland, over 800 additional employees were hired in the past financial year. In addition, more than 220 of our apprentices took the opportunity to start working for us. Internationally, around 740 new colleagues joined us.

And we have not only grown in terms of personnel: Last year, the Group invested over 300 million Swiss francs in new, innovative production equipment and state-of-the-art technologies. For example, we invested around 20 million Swiss francs in a clean room for watches with solar cells – a Group technology that is used in particular for the new Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport. There are no comparable facilities in Europe. 

It fills us with pride that we continue to manufacture great, innovative and high-quality products in our factories in Switzerland – and above all, that we continue to invest in our beautiful country even though the massively negative exchange rate effect cost us 554 million Swiss francs in 2023 and impacted our revenue by 7.4%.

The map of Switzerland on the cover of the Annual Report symbolically illustrates the network of our brands and our various companies.

The topics of Switzerland and the environment are well presented in our Sustainability Report and are particularly close to our hearts. The goals we have achieved in this area demonstrate our long-term commitment to sustainability and our positive contribution to society. As a company, we will continue to fulfill our responsibility proactively to preserve our planet for future generations.

You, our co-shareholders, are also very important to us. That is why the Swatch Group Board of Directors will propose an 8.3% higher dividend to the Annual General Meeting today, i.e., 1.30 Swiss francs per registered share and 6.50 Swiss francs per bearer share.

In general, I can assure you that we still have bold plans. We will continue to invest in the development of exceptional products, listen to our customers and anticipate market trends. And even better, we are also creating new markets with new customers, as demonstrated by Swatch's collaborations with Omega and Blancpain. An ambitious vision for the future sets us apart, and I am convinced that with your continued support and loyalty, Swatch Group will continue to grow in the long term.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again expressly thank all our employees, our management, my colleagues on the Executive Board and you, our fellow shareholders, for your commitment and support. This success is only possible with all of us working together!

 

Yours,

Nayla Hayek
Chair of the Swatch Group Board of Directors

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