© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Watches are displayed at a Swatch store, which is closed during a partial lockdown as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Zurich, Switzerland January 28, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) -Swatch Group returned to profit in the first six months of 2021 and its sales jumped more than 50% as demand recovered from the low point of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swiss watchmaker said on Monday.

The maker of Longines, Tissot and Omega watches said it made a net profit of 270 million Swiss francs ($295 million) compared with a 308 million franc loss in the same period of last year.

Sales rose to 3.39 billion francs from 2.19 billion a year earlier.

Swatch, known for its upbeat assessments of the market, said it expected further sales improvements during the second half of the year as COVID-19 shutdowns and associated travel restrictions are eased.

“Based on the significantly accelerated increase in sales in the second quarter, particularly in the month of June, the Swatch Group (SIX:) anticipates further strong growth in local currencies in the second half of the year, with sales above 2019 levels,” it said in a statement.

Sales of Swiss watches have recovered this year thanks to solid demand in mainland China and the United States, and stores reopening in Europe, but the value of Swiss watch exports was still 3% below 2019 levels in the first five months of 2021.

Rival Richemont, the owner of Cartier jewellery and Piaget and IWC watch brands is due to give its latest sales update on Friday.

($1 = 0.9155 Swiss francs)

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