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Swatch expects sales to improve in second half

By AFP

The world's biggest watchmaker Swatch Group is expecting sales to improve in the second half of this year after a difficult start to the year, group's CEO Nick Hayek said in remarks published Sunday.

"After a difficult start this year, we are now experiencing a substantial month to month improvement," Hayek told Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.

He added that he expected a "positive development in comparison to the same time a year ago, which was already hit by the crisis. I'm even expecting an improvement compared to the first six months."

"We will see a real stimulus in the second half," he said.

Even for its three subsidiaries which had trimmed working hours since last September amid a plunge in orders, Hayek said he expects production to take off again by the end of October.

He pointed out that the group's business in China, in particular, had grown significantly.

"The Swatch Group grew extraordinarily strongly in China. In June, we grew in double-digits, above all with Omega, Longines and Tissot."

Swiss watch exports have been tumbling over the past year, with foreign sales of Swiss watches and components dropping by a quarter in the first five months of the year compared to the same period in 2008, according to statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

The hardest hit export destinations included the United States, with a drop of 42.7 percent, followed by Japan, off 30.3 percent and Hong Kong, down 26.2 percent.

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