hublot.com

hublot.com

Swiss watch brand Hublot is planning to double up its stores in the promising Asian market especially China. The soccer World Cup time keeper has already plans to open at least 15 stores by next year.

Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Biver said in Geneva that China offers at least 30 years of growth. The watchmaker's first outlet was opened in Shanghai in early 2009.

According to Bloomberg, Hublot, owned by LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA), aims the Chinese market after focusing on US, Europe, and Japan in past years.

The 62-year-old Biver expressed his pleasure over the burgeoning luxury market of China. China and Hong Kong have become the biggest market for watches, and the combined wealth of millionaires in Asia may rise 8.8 percent annually through 2018, according to Capgemini and Merrill Lynch & Co.

Hublot, known for its Big Bang watches that started using unconventional materials such as natural rubber on gold watches, gets less than 1 percent of sales from China and about 8 percent from Asia, where it has six stores, Biver added.

Opening stores in China is cheaper than opening in conventional markets of Paris and New York, Biver said. He explained that the rent expenditure is in China is about $100,000 a year while it is more than $1 million on Paris's Place Vendome.

He also commented that Asians are keener to show off wealth than their American or European counterparts.

Hublot had record sales in each of the 11 months through August, and 2010 will be much better than 2008, Biver said.

LVMH, the world's biggest luxury-goods maker and owner of the Tag Heuer and Zenith watch brands, bought Hublot in 2008. The Paris-based company had 764 million euros of revenue from watches and jewelry last year.

While Hublot is kicked about its prospects in Asian markets, rival watchmaker Dewitt feels that Chinese economy is in a bubble state and there could be a possible slowdown.

Economists expect the country's economic growth to slow to 8.9 percent next year from this year's 10 percent, according to Bloomberg data. Gross domestic product increased 10 percent or more each year from 2003 to 2007. Premier Wen Jiabao said the world's fastest-growing economy is in good shape.