Case Study

Nicolas G. Hayek and the Swiss watch industry: Business leadership over two decades

28 pages
October 2006
Reference: IMD-3-1648

Nicolas G. Hayek, first CEO and later Chairman of the Swatch Group, is widely known as the savior of the Swiss watch industry. By commercializing the Swatch, he created the necessary breakthrough to revive the industry and push the company forward. This case deals with the CEO’s outstanding leadership over two decades. It explains in detail the business developments of the Swatch Group, from Hayek’s arrival at the company in the early 1980s to today. Many think of the Swatch Group as a producer of cheap, plastic watches with good advertising. But by 2005, the Swatch Group was only one of the Group’s 18 brands. The Group owned some of the best known brands in the industry, including Blancpain, Brequet, Longines and Omega. At the same time, the Group was also moving actively into retailing. Financially, the year 2005 was the Group’s best year profit-wise.

Learning Objective

The case offers a unique learning experience, as it combines both top level business leadership and strategy issues. It highlights how Hayek kept up with the changes in the business and how this CEO maintained his success over so many years. The storyline is divided into three phases to facilitate in-class discussion. The first phase deals with the transformation itself, followed by the move into high-end brands and retailing. For each of these phases, the readers will examine the management style and principles.

Impact, Change Management, Commitment, Strategy Development, Transformation, Watch
Global, Switzerland
Consumer Goods, Clocks and Watches
Published Sources
© 2006
Available Languages
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