Swarovski, the Austrian manufacturer of cut crystal, is restructuring its operations in Wattens.

The downsizing includes cutting 700 staff by the end of the year, reducing the total number of employees there to 6,000. Five hundred have already been dismissed, though many were able to find new employment, seek early retirement or were relocated to other Swarovski facilities in and around Tyrol and Innsbruck.

The company invested €120 million into facilities and new machinery in Wattens this year. “Swarovski is now aiming to focus strongly on innovation and especially on developing new cuts, with the aim to diversify itself from upcoming competitors from low-cost manufacturing countries,” said Bernardette Larcher, Director International PR Swarovski, recently.

“Despite appearances, the company is not facing a crisis. On the contrary, from crystal parts production the company expects to close 2008 with a €2 billion turnover that in 2007 was €1.934 billion. And for 2008, the forecasted overall company turnover will be €2.56 billion.”

As far as Wattens’s future is concerned, it will remain the heart of Swarovki’s operations. There are currently 15 production facilities worldwide.

“By the end of 2010 the company could see a move of its production outside of Wattens, though no decision has been taken yet,” said Larcher. “In any case, the entire production won’t be moved from Wattens since complicated production and some specific technologies need to be kept secret.”

Swarovski was founded in 1895 by Daniel Swarovski. Today the company, owned by the fourth and fifth generations of the Swarovski family, is still based in Wattens, employs 22,000 people worldwide and has a presence in 120 countries.

In addition to crystal components used in the fashion, accessories and design industries sold directly to manufacturers, Swarovski’s own brands of accessories, jewelry and home decor are sold through 1,300 Swarovski stores and concessions in major fashion capitals.

—Maria Cristina Pavarini