Switzerland: Worldwide Swatch sales nearly halved due to coronavirus

Swatch, the world's top watch company, said Tuesday its sales were nearly halved in the first half of the year due to coronavirus lockdowns, but that it has already returned to profitable operations.

Switzerland: Worldwide Swatch sales nearly halved due to coronavirus
Swiss watch brand Swatch. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The Swiss-based group whose brands also include Omega, Longines and Tissot, said sales plunged by 46.1 percent in the first half of 2020 from the same period last year to 2.2 billion Swiss francs ($2.3 billion, 2.1 billion euros).

It registered a net loss of 308 million francs for the period, against a profit of 415 million for the first six months of 2019.

The sales figures were just below the analyst consensus established by Swiss financial news agency AWP, while the loss far exceeded the 250 million francs expected by experts.

READ: The cheapest way to travel by train in Switzerland 

The company said state-imposed lockdowns to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus had at times shut up to 80 percent of its sales channels, but by June its operations had already returned to profit.

“The Group's management is convinced that the sales and profit situation will improve quickly in the coming months, parallel to the further easing of Covid-19 measures” in countries, it said in an earnings statement.

“A positive operating result is expected for the full year,” it added.

Swatch said launches of new products as well as lower costs should help it overcome the first half loss, and pointed to a strong rebound in areas where lockdowns have been lifted, including double-digit sales growth in mainland China in May and June compared to the same period last year.

The company shuttered definitively some 260 sales points during the first half of the year and it shed 6.5 percent of staff over the period to around 33,700 employees.

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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?