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Watch brand IWC opens new factory, expands ecommerce

[SCHAFFHAUSEN, Switzerland] Swiss watch brand IWC, owned by luxury goods group Richemont, inaugurated a new manufacturing site in its hometown of Schaffhausen as it gets ready to meet growing demand for its timepieces.

"We are very optimistic, you can see that in Swiss watch export figures," Christoph Grainger-Herr told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the opening ceremony on Monday.

"Asia-Pacific has recovered and the US also shows a good development," he said.

Swiss watch exports rose 10 per cent in the first seven months of the year, driven by a 29 per cent increase in their No1 market, Hong Kong, that bounced back after a severe downturn.

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IWC, which is known for its Pilot's watches and its Da Vinci and Portugieser collections, invested 42 million Swiss francs (S$58.5 million million) in the new site that now has 238 employees, but capacity for up to 400.

The brand is also pushing its ecommerce activities, expanding its online boutique to all of Europe in September after first launching it in the United States last year.

"The US and the United Kingdom are generally more open to ecommerce," said Mr Grainger-Herr, who took over as chief executive of IWC last year.

He said the brand that celebrates its 150th birthday this year would also keep growing its monobrand store network by five to 10 stores each year.

REUTERS