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Watchmakers cut staff despite sales increases

Despite a significant rebound in export sales, 2010 saw Swiss watchmakers continue to reduce staffing levels.

The employers association for the Swiss watch industry said on Tuesday the number of employees working in the industry last year fell by 1.1 per cent to 48,548 people.

Although an improvement on 2009, when staff levels declined by 7.9 per cent, the reduction occurred in a year when the industry rebounded strongly, reporting a 22.1 per cent increase in exports to SFr16.2 billion ($19.45 billion).

The contrasting figures reflected the fact that “2010 was again a year of uncertainty in terms of employment and growth in the sector”, the association said in a statement.

By historical comparison, the number of people employed by the watch industry remains close to its all-time high, 53,000 employees in 2008, and far from the low of less than 30,000 employees in 1987.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR