Press releases

Global Powers of Luxury Goods: Swiss luxury companies are taking the digital path to accelerate growth

Zurich/Geneva, 17 April 2019

  • The sales of the world’s Top 100 luxury goods companies grew by 11% and generated aggregated revenues of USD 247 billion in fiscal year 2017
  • Richemont, Swatch Group and Rolex remain in the top league of Deloitte’s Global Powers of Luxury Goods ranking
  • All Swiss companies in the Top 100 returned to growth in FY2017, but with only 8% increase, they lagged behind the whole market for the third time in a row
  • Luxury goods companies are making significant investments in digital marketing and the use of social media to engage their customers

Despite the recent slowdown of economic growth in major markets including China, the Eurozone and the US, the luxury goods market looks positive. In FY2017, the world’s Top 100 luxury goods companies generated aggregated revenues of USD 247 billion, representing composite sales growth of 10.8%, according to Deloitte’s 2019 edition of Global Powers of Luxury Goods. For comparison, in FY2016 sales were USD 217 billion and annual sales growth was as low as 1.0%. Three-fourth of the companies (76%) reported growth in their luxury sales in FY2017, with nearly half of these recording double-digit year-on-year growth.

Switzerland and Hong Kong prevail in the luxury watches sector

Looking at product sectors, clothing and footwear dominated again in FY2017, with a total of 38 companies. The multiple luxury goods sector represented the largest sales share (30.8%), narrowly followed by jewellery and watches (29.6%). Here Richemont, the Swatch Group, Chow Tai Fook, Rolex and Lao Feng Xiang were the highest contributors. Cosmetic and fragrances was the top-performing sector with a sales growth of 16.1%, while sales in bags and accessories shrunk by 1.1 percentage points to 6.1%.

“The global luxury market will continue to experience significant growth, in spite of an uncertain geopolitical and economic environment. The appetite for luxury goods of the rising middle class in major emerging countries does not give any signs of dwindling. China in particular will become an even more important market for luxury goods, and we observe that most companies have adapted their marketing strategy to better serve the specificities of the country,” comments Karine Szegedi, Managing Partner and Head of Fashion & Luxury at Deloitte Switzerland.

Richemont and Swatch Group hold their position in the Top 10

The Top 10 companies accounted for nearly half (48.2%) the total luxury goods sales of the Top 100 companies. Besides new joiner Chanel, the Top 10 companies either maintained or changed their position by one place.

Top 10 luxury goods companies by sales, FY2017

Richemont maintained last year’s third position on the overall ranking, turning round declining FY2016 sales to achieve 3.1% sales growth in FY2017, with strong sales performance in the Asia Pacific region. FY2017 net profit margin was down slightly, at 11.1%. The Swatch Group rebounded even more strongly, with year-on-year growth up 16.4 percentage points in FY2017, at 5.4%. This was driven by strong growth in Asia Pacific and Europe. The company also improved profitability, with FY2017 net profit margin of 9.5%, up 1.6 percentage points.

The Swiss luxury industry remains strong, but…

Rolex remains in the Top 15, and along with Richemont and the Swatch Group accounts for over 86% of the total share of Swiss company luxury goods sales in the ranking presented. Overall, there have been no changes in in the Swiss participation in the world’s Top 100. The nine Swiss-based companies operate in the luxury jewellery and watches product sector. They all returned to growth in FY2017, with a 7.7% increase in annual luxury goods sales.

However, for the third consecutive financial year, the growth in Swiss luxury goods sales is lower than global growth. “This development reflects the evolution that has been noted in the watch industry. All of the Swiss companies in the ranking operate in the jewellery and watch sector and whereas the jewellery market has shown strong results, the global watch market has experienced some turbulent times in the last two financial years,” explains Karine Szegedi.

Top 100 luxury goods Swiss-based companies

Key sources of growth for most of the Swiss companies were sales in Mainland China, and a stronger digital presence. While many customers do not want to miss the experience of visiting a boutique to see the luxury goods in person, look at the material and touch it, luxury companies are keeping an eye on a new consumer class that will become more and more relevant in the future: the High-Earners-Not-Rich-Yet. HENRYs are heavily influenced by modern technology and use social media to form their buying decisions, compelling luxury brands to make significant investments in digital technologies.

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