Swatch Group CFO to step down in 2009

GENEVA, March 18 (Reuters) - Swatch Group (UHR.VX), the world's largest watchmaker, said on Wednesday Chief Financial Officer Edgar Geiser would step down from his role during 2009 for personal reasons and will be replaced by Thierry Kenel.



Man's Watch "Tradition" by Breguet, one of the brands of Swatch Group
"In two days I will be 63 and I would like to do something different," Geiser told journalists at Swatch Group's annual press conference.

Geiser has worked at the Swiss group, best known for its colourful plastic Swatch watches, for 30 years and had been CFO for 18 years, he said. Kenel is currently CFO of the group's Breguet brand -- a position he has held for five years.

By 1203 GMT, shares in Swatch Group had risen 1.4 percent to 137.00 Swiss francs, while the DJ personal and household goods index .SXQP was 13 percent weaker

Chief Executive Nick Hayek repeated his forecast for Swatch Group to see a slight increase in full-year sales in 2009 as demand picks up in the second half of the year and said retailers were already starting to order again after stocks fell in March.

Consumers' appetite for Swiss watches has dwindled in recent months as many stop splashing out on luxury timepieces due to worries about the economic crisis and fears about job losses.

Swatch Group's rival Richemont (CFR.VX) has said it was facing the toughest market conditions in two decades and has started to cut some jobs.

Hayek said Richemont had cancelled some orders for movements at its manufacturing unit ETA. (Reporting by Katie Reid; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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