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UK's largest watch retailer lifts forecast as demand improves

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Watches of Switzerland Group raised its revenue forecast after a stronger-than-expected first half, providing a glimmer of hope for the battered Swiss watch industry.

[ZURICH] Watches of Switzerland Group raised its revenue forecast after a stronger-than-expected first half, providing a glimmer of hope for the battered Swiss watch industry.

The company, which is the UK's largest watch retailer, forecast full-year sales of £900 million (S$1.62 billion) to £925 million. Demand was better than anticipated in the six months ended October as well into the start of the Christmas holiday period.

The stock rose as much as 10 per cent Thursday morning in London.

The upbeat outlook reflects some improvements for the Swiss watch industry as it suffers from store closures and a virtual standstill in travel. Swiss watch exports slipped 3.2 per cent last month, continuing a gradual moderation of declines caused by the coronavirus pandemic that's led to a slump of 24 per cent so far this year.

"There is more demand," Watches of Switzerland chief executive officer Brian Duffy said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "That gives us the luxury of being able to conduct our business a fair bit better than others."

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The company's previous sales forecast was for £880 million to £910 million.

The number of people working in Switzerland for the watch industry dropped by about 1,550 in the year through September, an industry group said Wednesday.

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