Feb 27, 2009
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Richemont mulls job cuts, no decisions taken yet

Feb 27, 2009

ZURICH, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Richemont (CFR.VX), the group behind Cartier jewellery and watches, is still looking at possible job cuts in a bid to control production but says no definite decisions have been taken yet.

Photo : Reuters

"At the moment we are looking at contingency plans for all sorts of eventualities and we are considering how best to deal with the economic downturn and slower demand," a spokesman for the Geneva-based luxury goods group said.

"We have not announced any redundancies in the mainstream businesses but we're looking at various options and the planning process is ongoing," he said.

By 1250 GMT shares in Richemont were down 3 percent at 15.41 Swiss francs, while shares in Swiss rival Swatch Group (UHR.VX) were down 0.7 percent and the DJ Stoxx European personal and household goods sector index .SXQP was down 0.9 percent.

Richemont's Cartier business has already said it has reduced working hours at its smallest factory in Geneva.

"It is much more preferable to keep staff employed at a reduced rate rather than to cut jobs. At the moment we are looking at how best to deal with a downturn and slower demand," the spokesman said.

"It is a balancing act between keeping the workforce and trying to predict where demand will be. We are anxious not to lose people, but we also need to control production," he said.

The appetite for luxury timepieces has slumped in recent months as consumers rein in spending on worries about an uncertain economic outlook and possible job losses.

Swiss watch exports tumbled 22 percent in January, hit by weak demand in the United States and Japan, as well as in China and Russia.

Richemont, which is controlled by South Africa's Rupert family and has top-end brands such as Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre, said in January it was putting unnecessary capital expenditure on hold and job cuts were a possibility. (Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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