Swatch profits hit after crackdown on grey market

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Swatch has reported falling sales and profits following a crackdown on unofficial sales of its watches, and political trouble in one of its most important markets, Hong Kong.

The owner of the Omega and Longines brands said net income fell 11% to 415m Swiss francs (£340m; $420m) in the first half. Sales fell 4.4%.

Swatch has been taking action this year to stop its watches being sold at steep discounts online.

That move hit sales.

The company said it had been taking “uncompromising action” against dealers which have been selling watches to unauthorised retailers – often online watch sellers in Asia.

Swatch has stopped supplying some dealers completely and some have been warned about their activities.

The crackdown had cost it more than 100m Swiss francs in sales, but Swatch said it would have long-term benefits.

In particular the company is worried that its brand was being devalued, as unauthorised retailers were selling its watches at deep discounts.

Protest impact

Swatch also said there had been a “double-digit” fall in sales in Hong Kong, which it blamed on “political turbulence”.

Hong Kong has seen weeks of anti-government protests, involving tens of thousand protesters.

Hong Kong is the biggest export for Swiss watch makers and Swatch described it as an “important” market with “attractive margins”.

Swatch is optimistic that it will see improvement in trading in the second half of the year, as it has product launches planned and sees growing online sales.

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