ZURICH, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Richemont will axe up to 250 jobs in its latest round of cost cutting, a source familiar with the plans said on Monday, as the luxury goods group responds to a downturn in demand for expensive watches and jewellery.
The latest cutbacks could increase the total number of jobs shed by the Switzerland-based company to more than 500 since May, a trade union leader said.
Richemont is aiming to trim between 200 and 250 additional positions from its Swiss manufacturing units under an agreement between the company and unions that runs to February 2017, the source told Reuters.
The planned latest round of cuts would come on top of roughly 300 positions that Richemont eliminated in May, a move that included about 100 layoffs along with measures such as early retirements meant to keep the impact on active workers to a minimum, a spokesman for Swiss trade union Unia said.
Lucas DuBuis said the labour organisation would meet with workers at Richemont facilities throughout Switzerland on Tuesday in a bid to again keep actual layoffs to a minimum.
Richemont is closing 50 shops by the end of the year and trimming its Swiss workforce after more than two years of declining sales, the company said earlier this month.
The maker of Cartier branded jewellery and IWC watches has also been repurchasing stock from retailers, particularly in hard-hit cities such as Hong Kong, to eliminate an excess of inventory that has languished in display cases.
Of Richemont's 28,250 employees worldwide, around a third of them, or 8,500 workers, are in Switzerland. (Reporting by Zurich newsroom; Editing by Mark Potter)