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PARIS — Benefiting from its attainable luxury positioning amid economic uncertainty, French leather goods firm Longchamp saw revenues bound 16 percent last year to 454 million euros, or $583.7 million at average exchange rates.
The results were powered by a rollout of boutiques and shops-in-shop; key product launches including a leather version of its perennially popular Le Pliage bag, and a steady flow of Asian tourists, particularly in Europe.
Disclosing key financial results and development plans to WWD, Longchamp chief executive officer Jean Cassegrain said January and February “started well” after a “difficult” December in Europe, making him “quite optimistic” the luxury firm can keep up its double-digit pace this year.
“If things are getting a little tougher in 2013, it can also play in our favor,” he said in an interview at the family-controlled firm’s headquarters here. “We have proven to be more crisis-resistant than some of our competitors.”
By region, sales increased 26 percent in the Americas; 25 percent in Asia-Pacific; 16 percent in Europe, excluding France, and the Middle East, and 9 percent in France, still the brand’s largest market.
The U.S. ranks as the number-two market, with two other countries vying for the spot: Japan and Germany, whose globe-trotting Chancellor Angela Merkel is often pictured carrying a Longchamp tote.
Cassegrain noted that Longchamp’s revenues have catapulted 75 percent in the last three years, necessitating a 215,000-square-foot expansion of its distribution facility in Segré, France, where the brand’s main factory is based. The project represents an investment of 26 million euros, or $34.5 million at current exchange.
Longchamp ended the year with 252 directly operated boutiques and shops-in-shop, with a flagship on Canton Road in Hong Kong among key additions.
“It is already ranking in our top-five shops around the world,” Cassegrain said of the latter location, flashing a big smile. “It gives a lot of visibility to the brand. It’s a huge billboard for the Chinese tourists visiting Hong Kong.”
Key openings in 2013 are headlined by a 5,400-square-foot flagship at 229 Regent Street in London, slated for the second half of the year.
In the U.S., Longchamp just opened a shop-in-shop at Macy’s Herald Square in New York, and is about to open at the Aventura Mall in Miami, along with a unit in the Miami Design District.
Stores in Geneva, Rome and Amsterdam are in the cards for Europe.
Cassegrain said the company would ramp up its push into the footwear category for fall, primarily in its own stores, and with select wholesale partners, including Galeries Lafayette, which plans to open a dedicated space for the brand in its shoe department later this year.
Earlier this month, the landmark Paris department store opened a pop-up unit showcasing Longchamp’s ready-to-wear.
Yet leather goods still represent the lion’s share of the business, with Longchamp slated to put marketing muscle behind its new LM Cuir line of embossed cowhide handbags.
In late March, the brand is to open a 500-square-foot pop-up store dedicated to the LM range at 271 Rue Saint-Honoré, just opposite its flagship here.