As you might know, I’m French and thus, I frequently read Le Temps, a prominent Swiss newspaper – especially known for its respected section dedicated to the watchmaking industry. And what a surprise I found here. Indeed, Franck Muller, one of the main manufactures of Geneva, went bankrupt. We all know that the state of the industry is not the best at the moment, but still, this seemed like a real shock… until I read the entire story!
According to the official gazette of the Canton of Geneva, watch brand Franck Muller was declared in default by a court of first instance on April 24, 2017. Thus, Franck Muller was officially bankrupt. Considering the state of the watch industry, commentators and economics journalists immediately began to speculate that the brand founded by Mister Muller in 1991 was facing financial trouble. As it turns out, this was not actually the case at all! Everything started with a contested invoice of… 57,70 Swiss Francs. Yes, the price of a decent dinner in Geneva.
Franck Muller, founder of the eponym watch brand
The whole story, which has now become something of a joke (a bad one for sure), started with an invoice due to an advertising and billboards company, APG/SGA. This invoice referred to an advertising campaign that the watch brand wanted to display in Geneva airport. The latter being under construction, Franck Muller contested the payment of the entire invoice of CHF 57,70. However, the administrative machine was launched and a court decided on April 24 that the Company Franck Muller was defaulting and thus bankrupt. The bad joke lasted for 8 days, as the following week, the Civilian Chamber canceled this judgement, considering the low amount of the invoice and its payment (fees and interests included) by the interested company. A “ridiculous story that is now solved“, as said to Le Temps by the Director of Franck Muller, Nicholas Rudaz.
Indeed, Franck Muller, a company held by Armenian businessman Vartan Sirmakes, still employs to date 370 collaborators in Geneva and 630 in Switzerland. In addition, the company is about to expand production facilities with a new 16,000sqm building in Genthod, a city close to Geneva, where the headquarters (nicknamed Watchland) are located. No reason to worry about Franck Muller, which seems far from being bankrupt.
Source (in French): Le Temps – https://www.letemps.ch/economie/2017/05/10/franck-muller-mise-faillite-durant-huit-jours