Swatch upbeat after China ends zero-Covid policy

Swiss watch giant Swatch said Tuesday that its revenue growth was limited by China’s zero-Covid policy in 2022 but it anticipates strong sales this year following the lifting of restrictions.

Swatch, which also owns the luxury brands Tissot, Longines and Omega, posted net sales of 7.5 billion Swiss francs ($8.2 billion) last year, up 4.6 percent from 2021 at constant exchange rates.

But China’s Covid lockdowns caused a sales shortfall of more than 700 million Swiss francs, the maker of colourful watches said in a earnings statement.

The company posted a net profit of 823 million Swiss francs ($894 million) last year, up 6.3 percent from 2021.

“Consistent double-digit sales growth in Europe, America, the Middle East and most of the Asian markets was severely dampened by the significant decline in sales in China,” the statement said.

“First the lockdowns, and then the massive Covid wave after the measures were lifted, led to shortfalls of over 30 percent in this (fourth quarter),” it said.

But the group said it expects “strong” sales growth in all regions and segments this year after the end of China’s Covid measures, which has already led to a recovery in consumption in the key market.

“The sales growth in January in China reinforces the group’s expectation to aim for a record year in 2023,” it said. — Agence France-Presse

Fashion designer Paco Rabanne dead at 88

Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne, known for his eccentric clothing designs and for founding one of the world’s best-known fragrance brands, died on Friday at the age of 88.

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