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Swatch will keep production in Switzerland-paper

ZURICH, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Swatch Group SA , the world's largest watchmaker, intends to keep production in Switzerland despite the strength of the franc, its chief executive was quoted as saying.

Due to the strong franc, some companies in Switzerland have warned they may have to move production abroad in a bid to lower their costs.

"We want to keep the companies, the jobs and the production in Switzerland," Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek was quoted saying in a preview of Thursday's edition of Handelszeitung. "In other countries too the exchange rate, wages, taxes and social insurance will change one day."

The group, famous for its colourful plastic watches, also owns brands such as Longines, Omega and Tissot.

Despite the strong franc, watch exports from Switzerland have grown strongly over the past year, in part because buyers value them for their quality and are therefore less sensitive to price increases.

Last year, Swatch Group achieved a record 7 billion Swiss francs ($7.5 billion) in sales despite the strong franc. For this year it is hoping for 8 billion, yet due to slowing growth in China, a top market for watches, it will have to work hard to achieve that goal, Hayek said last week. ($1 = 0.9378 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by David Holmes)

((catherine.bosley@thomsonreuters.com)(+41 58 306 7461))

Keywords: SWATCH PRODUCTION/CEO