Publicly-listed companies are in an invidious position of reporting results that pre-date the current Coronavirus outbreak and issuing forward guidance to stock markets at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.
Against this backdrop, Swatch Group announced its full year results for the 12 months ended in January, which showed a 2.7% decline in sales for 2019 to CHF 8.2 billion and a 14% drop in net profit to CHF 748 million.
The group employed over 36,000 people at the end of 2019, a number largely unchanged for the past five years.
In a conference call with journalist, the group’s president Nick Hayek said the plan is to maintain production at its factories despite the a virtual standstill for businesses in Europe and the United States.
There are signs of gradual improvement in Swatch Group’s key market of China, which could mitigate for some of the downturn in Western markets.
“In China the situation is improving, while in Europe there’s a standstill and the U.S. is also headed for a standstill,” Hayek said. “Of course we have seen a strong impact on sales in February and March,” he adds.
Swatch Group has a reputation for sticking by its workforce in difficult times, and intends to take the same course in the current crisis.
He says there are no plans to cut jobs, but shorter working hours are being introduced. “We want to keep some activity, also to show our staff their jobs are still there,” he explains.