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Business trends

Thinking outside the watch box in Japan

Citizen, Seiko, Casio look elsewhere for growth as timepieces lose a beat

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  © Reuters

TOKYO -- Aiming to adapt to a shrinking market, major watch manufacturers in Japan are stepping up efforts beyond the mainline operations for which they are famous.

Citizen Watch sees operating profit in its machine tool business climbing 17% to a record 7.5 billion yen ($67.6 million) in the current year ending March 2018. The segment accounts for less than a fifth of the Tokyo-based company's overall sales. Sales in the business are seen rising 7% to 53 billion yen, also a record.

Orders from China are driving the uptick amid robust demand from the automotive and construction machinery sectors. In Europe, cutting tools used to make screws for dental implants are enjoying growth as well.

Seiko Holdings forecasts operating profit to rise 25% to 1.5 billion yen in the systems solutions business, which includes payment and mobile solutions. The segment accounts for less than 10% of overall sales but is helping to support earnings amid declining profits in the watch business.

Casio Computer has been cultivating its system equipment segment, which is on track to a narrower loss this fiscal year. The operation covers such products as projectors.

The nation's market for wristwatches shrank 13% to 786.7 billion yen last year, according to the Japan Clock & Watch Association. Foreign tourists have cut back on their shopping sprees, and natives are shunning such luxuries as watches amid weak income growth. Watch sales have languished even abroad, according to Citizen Watch President Toshio Tokura.

(Nikkei)

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