Geneva, Switzerland – Swiss watch brands Ulysse Nardin and Girard Perregaux, owned by Kering, said on Monday that they are shutting down about 100 jobs, or a quarter of their total workforce, after the sale was hit by the coronavirus crisis.
The Swiss watch industry saw demand collapse during the pandemic as stores around the world remained closed for months and Chinese tourists no longer flocked to luxury malls like Paris.
“The sudden drop in sales due to the pandemic, followed by the timid recovery of the watch industry, prompted the decision to narrow these manufacturing capabilities,” the two brands said in a statement.
Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of the two brands since 2018, said the economic impact of the pandemic is “likely to have a wave effect in the coming years.”
The Swiss watch brands of French luxury group Kering attended the Geneva Watch Days 10 days ago to revive demand, but trade show executives said they feared job losses, particularly at suppliers.
Kering said in its July semi-annual report that Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, acquired in 2014 and 2011 respectively, were in “deep transformation processes” after years of operating in a fragile market environment.
Sales of the two brands contracted sharply and their losses worsened in the first half of 2020, causing Kering to record impaired assets of € 201 million ($ 238 million) for watch brands and fashion label Brioni.
By Silke Koltrowitz; editor: Alexander Smith