The Americas region recorded net sales of CHF 111.8 million in the first half of 2021 (prior-year period: CHF 100.4 million), an increase of 10.8%. At constant exchange rates, the revenue growth was 18.5%. The service business made an above-average contribution to this growth. Order intake in the Americas region increased by 80.8% to CHF 148.7 million (+92.1% at constant exchange rates). While the first half of 2020 was particularly affected by the pandemic with a low order intake level of CHF 82.2 million, the increase in order intake amounted to an outstanding +70.1% compared to the level of the first half of 2019.
Regarding regional trends, the business environment in the United States and Canada all but overheated due to substantial government stimulus efforts. This led to a backlog of pent-up demand from our customers which has, among other things, resulted in the need to hire new staff – a difficult undertaking in light of the current labor market. The situation in Latin America, by contrast, has been subdued. Until vaccination rates in these countries increase, we expect to see a slower market recovery here.
Not least as a result of the pandemic and the difficulties of finding sufficient staff, the demand for automated solutions has increased. As a technology leader in this field, we have been able to help our customers automate, and our smart factory solutions are generating a great deal of interest. On the machine side, we experienced a rebound in sales in the gold segment, which had declined in the 2020 pandemic year.
The China region generated record net sales of CHF 74.2 million in the first half of 2021 (prior-year period: CHF 51.0 million), an increase of 45.2%, or 43.5% adjusted for currency. The main driver was the business with new machines, which is owed to the fact that customers started to invest again due to improved economic perspectives. Order intake in the China region rose by a strong 63.9% to CHF 83.4 million (+61.6% at constant exchange rates) compared to the low order intake of CHF 50.9 million in the first half of 2020. In comparison to the first half of 2019, order intake increased by 14.2%. The first quarter started slowly due to the Chinese New Year. Business started trending upward in March and remained strong through the second quarter.
Bystronic China attended several exhibitions and hosted very successful Competence Days. A number of important products were launched in the first half of 2021 addressing the growing demand for cutting and bending solutions. Under the DNE brand, Bystronic launched D-Solar (a 7th-generation high-power laser machine) and V-Bend (new entry-level press brake). In addition, we launched the ByCut Smart and the ByTube Smart 220, expanding the product portfolio in the bronze and silver segments.
The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region generated net sales of CHF 45.0 million in the first half of 2021 (prior-year period: CHF 37.5 million), an increase of 19.8%. At constant exchange rates, sales grew by 16.5% compared to the prior-year period. While the new machines business developed well, the service business saw even more buoyant growth rates. Order intake in the APAC region increased by 46.3% to CHF 48.0 million (H1 2020: CHF 32.8 million), or by 43.8% when adjusted for currency or by 26.9%, respectively, compared to the first half of 2019. While the region experienced a somewhat subdued start to the year, order intake started picking up considerably in March and the positive trend continued through the second quarter. The main market drivers were Korea and Australia, but as of April, Taiwan also started contributing to the strong development.
Regarding regional trends, APAC was characterized by two extremes. On the one hand, the more mature markets such as Australia, Korea, Japan and Taiwan found their way back to normality and experienced an upward trend. In fact, most customers were surprised by how quickly business picked up again and now face the challenges of increased shipping and raw material costs. On the other hand, countries in South-East Asia (SEA) and India continued to be severely impacted by the pandemic. This region is suffering from the resulting economic slowdown, and in part also from the limitation of operational activities. Nevertheless, our customer support activities were maintained at a high level and the service business showed an encouraging trend.
The strategy for the APAC region regarding product areas reflects the differentiation between the more mature markets, which are focused on the gold and silver segments, and the markets in SEA and India, which are more oriented toward the bronze and silver segments. Throughout the region, key customer events were carried out in the first half of 2021, in some countries with a return to physical trade shows, in others via digital channels.