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Swiss Companies Continue to Suffer from the Poor Economy

Order books, particularly of exporting Swiss industries continued to empty during the second trimester, with orders falling strongly. Inside analysts say the the drop in business is as bad as it was in 1991.

Sales figures registered a 13% drop with respect to the same period in 2008. Output dropped 15% according to the Federal Statistics Office (OFS).

The results support the arguments that a return to a robust health will take considerably more time for Swiss exporters.

Bulgari is preparing to let go 50 staff at Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta Haute Horlogerie SA. The administrative center in Meyrin is expected to bear the brunt of the cuts with 45 of the 50 layoffs. The management at Bulgari has already discussed with staff the company’s intention to drastically reduce headcount at the two brands.

Dow chemical will be closing its European offices at Morges and concentrate its activities in Horgen (Zurich). After the purchase of its competitor Rohm Haas the American chemical group had two centers in Switzerland. Roughly 40 staff were offered a job at the Horgen offices. Before announcing the definitive closing of the Morges offices, 25 staff had already left on their own.

Elsewhere, numerous companies have been launching restructuring programs in response to the poor economic climate.

Since the beginning of the year, Holcim, Swiss Re, UBS, Credit Suisse, and Adecco have all eliminated thousands of jobs. Holcim (cement; St. Gallen) reduced its headcount by nearly 10,000 workers, down to 81,500.

In April Swiss Re announced the elimination of 1200 jobs and a cost reduction program to save CHF 400 million. En 2009, the management expects a saving of CHF 150 million.

UBS cut 4400 jobs through end June, to settle at 71,806 staff, and there are a further 4800 jobs to be cut, according to management. Last spring UBS put some of its staff on partial unemployment – a watershed event: no Swiss bank had ever done that before. The measures actually were directed at their HR recruitment staff. Zurich accepted the request; the canton of Vaud refused it.

In July Credit Suisse indicated it cut 4900 jobs. At the end of June the Bank has 46,700 staff.

ABB wants to economize $ 2 billion, with the half the savings accrued in 2009 but has so far not made any major staff cuts.

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