French luxury goods group Hermes said on Friday (July 22) it expected first-half 2017 operating profitability to be close to the peak level of 33.9 per cent of sales achieved in the first half of 2016, thanks to foreign exchange gains.
Hermes, known for its US$10,000 (S$13,679) Birkin bags and US$400 printed silk scarves, made the forecast after sales growth slowed in the second quarter, broadly in line with expectations, and reflecting mostly challenging year-ago comparables.
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Chief executive Axel Dumas told a conference call that sales momentum remained “quite good” with sustained demand for Hermes’ Birkin, Kelly, Constance and Lindy bags, robust demand for shoes, while the silk business continued to rebound.
In China, Hermes sales were still growing in double digits in the quarter, while Europe benefited from a rebound in tourist flows, which was particularly strong in Italy and in London thanks to a weaker pound, he said.
France was broadly flat, while growth in America also slowed due to high year-ago comparisons
Hermes reported an 8.3 per cent rise in revenue at constant exchange rates to 1.361 billion euros (S$2.16 billion), compared with 11.2 per cent growth in the first quarter. Analysts had forecast about 9 per cent growth on average.
Sales growth at its leather goods division, which makes up 50 per cent of group sales, slowed to 9.7 per cent from the 15 per cent rise achieved in the first quarter.
The luxury industry has suffered in the past couple of years as demand in China slowed and attacks in France deterred some tourists from travelling to Europe.
A recovery in tourism in Europe and stronger Chinese consumption are expected to lead a rebound in the luxury sector this year, the Bain consultancy predicted in May.
(Source: Straits times)