Watchmaker Swatch wrote deep red figures in the first half of the year because stores worldwide had to close because of the corona virus. At the peak of the lockdown measures, 80 percent of all outlets were closed, nearly halving sales. To return to profitability, the Swiss company cut its stores and workforce at an accelerated pace.

In the first six months, Swatch, also a seller of luxury brands Omega and Longines, suffered an operating loss of 327 million Swiss francs (306 million euros). That negative result coincided with a drop in turnover of more than 46 percent to 2.2 billion francs.

Swatch closed 260 of its stores in the first half of this year, causing the loss of 2,400 jobs. In total, the number of Swatch employees shrank by 6.5 percent to 33,700. It is one of the most drastic cost measures of the company, which also made savings in purchasing, production and marketing.

Swatch expects to be profitable for the whole of 2020. In addition to the lower costs, the company is hoping for pick-up in sales of its watches in countries where lockdowns have been lifted. For example, sales in China rose sharply in May and June.

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