Swatch Group seeing strong demand so far in 2017 - CEO

BIEL, Switzerland, March 16 (Reuters) - Swatch Group

has seen strong demand for its watches since the beginning of

the year, the world's biggest watchmaker's chief executive said

on Thursday.

"The first two and a half months of 2017 showed strong

growth, particularly in Asia," Nick Hayek told a news conference

to present the company's full-year results, already released in


Swiss watchmakers are grappling with declining sales in

their biggest markets -- Hong Kong and the United States -- and

tourist shoppers avoiding Europe for fear of extremist attacks,

but recently watch shipments to mainland China turned the


The company's finance chief said Swatch Group had chosen to

do a share buyback last year to avoid negative interest on its

cash position.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Michael Shields)