LONDON — Compagnie Financière Richemont plans to lay off up to 70 people at the high-end Swiss watch manufacturer Manufacture Roger Dubuis SA, which it acquired in August.
A Richemont spokesman said Friday the layoffs were not “recession-driven,” but rather the result of a strategy to downsize the workforce. “When we purchased it last August, Roger Dubuis was an oversize company, one that had grown very quickly. We’re simply scaling back,” he said.
Richemont, which owns watch brands including Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Baume & Mercier and Piaget, acquired a 60 percent stake in Dubuis in August. Dubuis manufactures and distributes luxury watches under its name, and operates as an autonomous maison within Richemont.
Sylvie Rumo, director of communication for Dubuis, said the layoffs were a “tragic” but necessary step as the result of an over-zealous hiring strategy implemented by the company before it was acquired by Richemont. A significant drop in third-quarter sales for Dubuis, due to the financial crisis, further prompted the decision, she said, adding the redundancies would likely take place in a month.
As reported last month, Richemont has drawn up plans for potential job cuts across its watchmaking division should the economic situation deteriorate, according to Unia, Switzerland’s largest union.
Jean-Claude Rennwald, head of Unia’s watchmaking unit, confirmed that a Richemont plan was in place, but declined to outline details, notably how many workers the layoffs would impact and what brands would be involved.
On Friday, the Richemont spokesman downplayed the contingency plans. “I don’t know of any company that is not making contingency plans right now. We have no specific plans for more layoffs, and we are trying to do everything we can to avoid them,” he said.