Hodinkee x Swatch

PARIS — Sales have picked up at Swatch Group, the group reported Monday, citing a significant acceleration in the second quarter thanks to the reopening of key markets following months of pandemic lockdown measures.

The group, which owns Longines, Blancpain, Harry Winston, Tissot and Omega, among other labels, is targeting strong growth in the second half of the year, when it aims to rise above 2019 levels.

“The easing of COVID-19 restrictions announced by European and Asian countries, as well as the resumption of tourism in many regions, will provide a further boost in sales,” predicted the group in a statement.

Sales for the first half came to 3.39 billion Swiss francs, or $3.7 billion, up 55 percent compared to the previous year at constant exchange rates. That figure was 12.3 percent lower than the first half in 2019.

Swatch said the sales performance was led by China, Macau, the U.S. and Russia, with business from its own retail stores outpacing the group average, while e-commerce continued to grow. Travel-related business continued to suffer, however, with sales in airports and travel destinations remaining significantly below 2019 levels, the group said.

The group closed 135 stores over the period, reducing employees by 2.7 percent. It also opened 36 new stores.

Net income came to 270 million Swiss francs compared to last year’s operating loss of 327 million Swiss francs. The company flagged improvement in its operating margin over the first half, which stood at 17 percent — above the 2019 figure of 19.2 percent.

In March, executives at Swatch flagged a strong recovery in the U.S. while the situation in Europe remained complicated. They also noted a quick recovery in countries no longer in lockdown, especially mainland China. Greater China was Swatch’s largest market last year, accounting for 44.5 percent of sales.