Swatch Group said it expected sales and profits to improve quickly in the coming months after the Covid-19 pandemic led it to post a net loss in the first half of the year. 

Swiss watchmakers have seen their sales slide as the pandemic led to store closures, first in Asia then in Europe and the US, and Chinese tourists, their most important customers, could not travel and shop. 

Sales fell 46.1% to 2.2 billion Swiss francs ($2.34 billion) in the first half of 2020, the maker of Omega timepieces said in a statement released today. 

It posted a net loss of 308 million Swiss francs, after a net profit of 415 million francs the same time last year. 

The company said it had returned to a positive operating result in June and was seeing very high demand in markets which had come out of lockdown, including double-digit sales growth in mainland China in May and June. 

It said it expected a strong second half with a positive operating result for the full year. It closed around 260 stores in the first half and reduced headcount by 6.5% since December to save costs.

The company had already cut its dividend for 2019 and board members' fixed pay for this year due to the difficult situation.