PARIS — Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin has introduced shorter working hours for its 320 staff due to waning demand for its luxury timepieces.
A spokeswoman for the brand, owned by French conglomerate Kering, confirmed reports that the measures were taken at the end of last year and concern staff at Ulysse Nardin’s sites in the watchmaking hubs of Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds. She declined to provide additional details.
The reduction in working times averages 20 percent and reaches 60 percent for some staffers, Swiss newspaper L’Express reported.
Ulysse Nardin chief executive officer Patrik Hoffmann was quoted as telling the paper that the main reason was the fall in demand from customers in Russia — which accounts for 25 percent of its sales — but the strong Swiss franc and falling petrol prices also played a role.
Hoffmann added that Ulysse Nardin was profitable but that growth was flat last year and would likely remain stable in 2015.
The decision is the latest reflection of the crisis affecting watch and jewelry brands as they struggle with falling demand and a sharp appreciation of the franc. Tag Heuer in September laid off 46 employees and put another 49 on temporary unemployment until the year-end. Cartier also shortened working hours.