LONDON — Cartier has slashed the working hours of about 14 percent of its staff in the watch production and assembly division, according to a report by analysts at the Zurich-based Bank Vontobel AG.
The bank said in a report on Monday that 230 employees have been asked to work three fewer days per week, due to a slowdown in demand for Cartier watches.
A Richemont spokesman confirmed “short-term working” at one of six Cartier sites in Switzerland. The spokesman said the site concerned produces mainly cases and watch bracelets.
The bank said the last time Cartier resorted to short-time work was during the financial crisis in 2009, when 500 employees, or 45 percent of the total, saw their hours reduced.
Vontobel believes Cartier is reacting to “weak demand,” for watches observed in the first five months of the fiscal year. “We believe the issue is just for Cartier watches, as Richemont’s specialist watchmaker division showed organic growth of 4 percent, and Swiss watch exports were up 3 percent until August,” the bank said.
As reported earlier this month, sales growth at Cartier’s parent Compagnie Financière Richemont slowed to 1 percent on a reported basis, and 4 percent at constant exchange rates in the April-to-August period.
The Richemont five-month results fell short of analysts’ estimates, and in a five-month trading statement the company blamed the performance on currency headwinds and “subdued” demand for luxury goods worldwide.
Jewelry sales were flat at actual rates, and advanced 2 percent at constant ones, while the specialist watchmaker category advanced 2 percent at reported rates, and 4 percent at constant ones.
In the trading statement, Richemont said Cartier jewelry continued to outperform watches, which have suffered from weak demand and destocking, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.