Jan 17, 2020
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Richemont sales rise offsets Q3 Hong Kong weakness, but fashion ops dip

Jan 17, 2020

Swiss luxury group Richemont had good news and bad for its latest quarter as Fashion & Accessories sales fell but it saw good growth overall in most of its markets for the wider business.

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In the three months to December 31, that growth was able to “more than offset” the impact of the protests in Hong Kong that meant a “marked contraction” for the firm there. But its growth in Q3 still slowed compared to the first half.

The Chloé, Cartier and Dunhill owner, which is the second largest luxury group globally, said its total sales in the quarter increased by 6% at actual exchange rates and by 4% at constant exchange rates to €4.16 billion (£3.54 billion). It saw “strong” growth in Europe and the Americas, while Asia Pacific was up in low-single-digits and there were “strong double-digit increases” in China and Korea. Constant currency sales had risen a faster 6% in H1.

So were there any specific weak points to note? Well, as mentioned, its fashion ops didn’t do well as it would have liked. The company said its “Other Businesses” category, in which fashion and accessories are included, saw a 3% decline in sales to €522 million at constant exchange rates. This reflected “challenging trading conditions” for the brands, “with the exception of Peter Millar, which continued to show strong momentum in the US”.

And while the Online Distributors (that is, the Yoox Net-A-Porter operation and Watchfinder) rose 5% in total to €670 million, an “increasingly competitive pricing environment in online retail and disruption caused by storm damage to Mr Porter’s Landriano warehouse facilities limited sales growth to 2%” at constant exchange rates. However, there was “strong demand in the US”.

Regionally, we know that Hong Kong was troubled for well-publicised reasons. But the company also called out Japan as the only separate geographic unit not to see growth. Japan declined by 7% as the stronger yen, lower tourist spending and a sales tax increase in October all weighed on shopping activity. Total sales in Asia Pacific increased by 2%, driven by strong double-digit sales growth in China and Korea that more than made up for the “severe sales contraction” in Hong Kong.

By contrast, sales in Europe were up 9%  benefiting from favourable comparative numbers and strong sales in most markets. Sales in the Americas rose by 5%, led by good performances in the US that “compensated for declines in other markets”. And the 3% sales increase in the Middle East and Africa “reflected a good performance of retail (both online and offline) and favourable comparative numbers in a soft economic environment”. 

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By business channel, Retail saw a 5% sales rise, even with the negative impact of temporary store closures in Hong Kong during most of the period under review. Sales were “particularly noteworthy” in the rest of China, however. And Wholesale at €1.186 billion was flat year-on-year at constant exchange rates, “reflecting good performance of franchise stores, notably in Korea, partly offset by the impact of ongoing cautious watch inventory management and distribution optimisation initiatives which have now reached completion”. 

The company also said it saw a 6% sales rise at the Jewellery Maisons, driven by jewellery and watches across collections. The performances of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Buccellati were also called out as “particularly noteworthy”.

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