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Happy hour at Swatch after record profit

Profit at the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, rose 41.5 per cent in 2010 to SFr1.08 billion ($1.13 billion), helped by strong demand in Asia.

The Biel-based group, which is best known for its colourful plastic Swatch watches but also owns higher-end brands such as Breguet, Blancpain and Omega, coped well with the economic downturn and strong franc as customers, particularly in China, continued to splash out on watches.

“Prospects remain good for the year as a whole, despite the current strength of the Swiss franc,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it aimed for sales of SFr10 billion in the medium term.

In addition to the net profit, earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) jumped by 23.5 per cent compared with 17.6 per cent in 2009.

CEO Nick Hayek told Reuters last month that he saw more growth in 2011 but exchange rate fluctuations made it difficult to predict how big the gains would be.

A strong rise in the Swiss franc versus the euro and dollar is giving Swiss exporters a headache and many brands, which are particularly hard hit as the bulk of their cost base is in francs, have had to raise prices to offset the impact.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR