Swarovski anniversary earrings

PARIS — As the tally of job cuts across the globe continues to mount, Swarovski plans to cull 600 positions, with the coronavirus crisis adding urgency to restructuring efforts at the historic, family-owned crystal-maker.

In a bid to streamline the company, which is based in Austria and Switzerland, chief executive officer Robert Buchbauer is kicking off a restructuring drive by merging marketing and sales activities that were spread across businesses, as indicated in an e-mailed statement from the group. 

Swarovski is currently realigning its business along a new vision and growth strategy and with this fundamentally changing its existing organizational structures and business model,” it said.

“To this end, all business processes, activities and fields of activity worldwide are currently being reviewed to ensure that they are in line with both the strategic realignment and economic reality,” it added.

The job cuts, which include 200 at headquarters in Wattens, Austria, are related to the marketing and sales activities. 

Leading the overhaul, Buchbauer officially rose to his position in April but as longtime ceo of the consumer goods division, he has been managing the bulk of the company’s crystal business for more than a decade. The consumer goods activity, which sells watches and charms in an international retail network, grew significantly under Buchbauer’s leadership to account for nearly 80 percent of the crystal business — up from a quarter in 2001, then around half in 2007. 

The 125-year-old company had traditionally operated a business-to-business model mostly selling to fashion companies. It continues to serve the fashion industry, and is known for collaborating with designers over the years, including Jean-Paul Gaultier, Hubert de Givenchy, Victor & Rolf and Mary Katrantzou.

Having steered expansion in consumer-facing activities, Buchbauer was rethinking the label’s retail model before COVID-19 hit. Seeking to merge digital and physical channels, the company had opened its first new look store in Milan in October with an eye to opening displays to encourage interaction between customers and the products. 

Buchbauer has also stressed the importance of lean operations and an open approach, in keeping with the company’s entrepreneurial past — which allowed a shift from producing chandelier pieces to selling objects, for example.

The company sells watches in price ranges up to around $400. The under $200 category includes a stainless steel, crystal-encrusted Cosmopolitan watch. Swan charms start at $39, while gold-plated tennis necklaces run up to around $300.

In April, just as COVID-19 shutdowns swept across markets in Europe and Asia, the company said it employed around 29,000 people around the world and generates annual sales of around 2.7 billion euros.

The company is part of the larger Swarovski group, which also sells optical tools and industrial machines, and which generated sales of around 3.5 billion euros last year.