GENEVA, Switzerland — Swatch Group AG plans to start selling sunglasses under its namesake brand as soon as this year, a diversification from its main business of Swiss watches as that industry faces one of its most challenging years.
A collection called Swatch Eyes will probably be Italian made, and will be better than the glasses the brand tried selling in the 1990s as Swatch now has improved its distribution, Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said by phone Thursday. The glasses would be sold in 900 locations, including Swatch shops, as well as Hengdeli and Rivoli stores in Asia and the Middle East.
The Swiss watch industry is facing Apple Inc.’s imminent introduction of a smartwatch as luxury consumption in China, the biggest market for Swiss watches, extends a two-year slump. The franc has surged 14 percent against the euro this year, damping earnings from sales made abroad.
Swatch is still hiring in Switzerland, Hayek said. Last year, the company added 770 jobs in its home country.
By Jan Schwalbe, Thomas Mulier; editors: Matthew Boyle, Paul Jarvis.