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Friday, November 11, 2011

Richemont’s Half-Year Sales Up 29%, led by Asian Demand and Jewelry and Watch Sales


Luxury goods conglomerate, Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, said Friday that sales for the six-month period, ended September 30, increased by 29 percent to 4.2 billion euros ($4.68 billion), year-over-year. At constant exchange rates (stripping out the effects of currency exchange rates), the increase was 36 percent.

The Swiss company reported solid growth across all segments, regions and channels. Operating profit increased by 41 percent to 1 07 billion euros ($1.2 billion). Net income for the period increased by 10 percent to 709 million euros ($791.3), reflecting the impact of a one-time gain in the comparative period.

Richemont owns several leading luxury goods companies, which it calls Maisons, with particular strengths in jewelry, luxury watches and writing instruments. These companies include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Panerai and Montblanc.

“Our Maisons were able to benefit from a favorable trading environment to enhance their positions in jewelry, watchmaking and accessories,” said Johann Rupert, Richemont, executive chairman and CEO. “The rate of increase in net profit was lower than the increase in operating profit primarily due to a one-off gain in the comparable period.”

Rupert also noted that the group’s net cash position is 2.6 billion euros ($2.9 billion) and that sales in month of October, not included in the report, increased 28 percent, year-over-year. Sales were strengthened by the group’s own retail network bolstered by very strong demand in the Asia-Pacific and Americas regions.

Although gross profit rose by 26 percent, gross margin percentage was 160 basis points lower at 63.2 percent of sales, due to adverse currency movements affecting sales, the strengthening of the Swiss franc and, as expected, the impact of Net-a-Porter, the online luxury goods retailer. The company’s brands raised prices in order to offset the strength of the Swiss franc during the period. The stronger Swiss franc is of particular importance to the cost of sales as the majority of the Group’s manufacturing facilities are located in Switzerland.

Compared with the group’s other brands, Net-a-Porter’s gross margin percentage is well below the average reflecting its distinct business model as an online retailer, Richemont said. Given its above-average sales growth, Net-a-Porter has a dilutive impact on the Group’s gross margin percentage.
 
Earnings per share increased by 11 percent for the period.
 
Double-digit organic growth was registered across all regions, including Russia and the Middle East. Travelers to Europe continue to be an important sales driver. All brands improved their performance in the region versus the comparative period.

Sales to the Asia-Pacific region increased 48 percent (60 percent at constant exchange rates) to 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion), led by China, which is now the company’s third strongest market, after Hong Kong and the U.S.

In Europe, sales increased 20 percent (22 percent at constant exchange rates) to 1.5 billion euros ($1.67).

Sales in the Americas grew by 23 percent (35 percent at constant exchange rates) to 602 million euros ($671.7), driven by significant High Jewelry sales, although business in general has been very encouraging, the company said.

Sales in Japan increased 9 percent (8 percent at constant exchange rates) to 380 million euros ($424 million), despite the dramatic events of last March. Van Cleef and Arpels and watches performed particularly well.
 
Directly operated boutiques and Net-a-Porter sales increased by 37 percent. This was well above the growth in wholesale sales and Richemont now generates 49 percent of its sales through its own retail network.

The growth in retail sales partly reflected the good performance of Net-a-Porter and the expansion of the Maisons’ network of boutiques to 919 stores. Openings during the period were primarily in high-growth markets such as China.
 
Jewelry sales grew by 34 percent to 2.16 billion euros ($2.4 billion). “Both Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier performed exceptionally well,” Richemont said.

Watch sales increased 30 percent to 1.17 billion euros ($1.3 billion).  “All watch brands performed well worldwide, reflecting the strong demand for haute horlogerie,” Richemont said. “Despite higher input costs and the strength of the Swiss Franc, the contribution margin was 27 percent, reflecting the brand’s pricing power and operating leverage.”
 
Montblanc reported strong growth with a 10 percent increase to 334 million euros ($372.6 million), reflecting good demand for its range of watches and accessories particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
 
Richemont’s fashion and accessories brands saw double-digit sales growth and more than tripled its profits to 23 million euros ($25.6 million). Alfred Dunhill and Chloé performed particularly well.
 
Net-a-Porter incurred losses during the period amounting to 22 million euros ($24.5 million), resulting from the amortization of intangibles and the costs associated with the continued expansion of its platforms in the U.K. and the U.S

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