PARIS — Christian Dior Couture did not escape the global economic downturn, and saw sales growth stall as business conditions toughened in the U.S. and Japan.
Fourth-quarter revenues dropped 6.9 percent to 202 million euros, or $266.4 million.
For the full year, revenues at the French fashion and accessories house slipped 2.8 percent to 765 million euros, or $1.13 billion, even though Dior said the business “continued to do well in Europe, the Middle East and China.” Expressed at constant exchange rates, total 2008 revenues were flat.
Profits in 2008 from recurring operations stood at 9 million euros, or $13.2 million. This compares with operating profits of 74 million euros, or $101.4 million, in 2007. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the corresponding period.
Dior said the 2008 profit figure reflects the slower pace of business and costs for expanding its store network and overhauling the supply chain, “a substantial project that will improve the profitability of Christian Dior Couture.”
The company gave no sales or earnings guidance for 2009, but said its objective would be to “increase the flexibility of its organization and to continue its growth strategy of developing very high-end, iconic products.”
Sidney Toledano, Dior’s president and chief executive officer said widespread and early markdowns in the U.S. hurt its business late last year. By contrast, Dior conducted a brief sale in Paris during the regulated period at a temporary location, which “didn’t impact” full-price sales at its Avenue Montaigne flagship.
Dior also exited the logo and “access product” business as it pursues an upscaling drive. On the plus side, Dior posted “significant growth” in ready-to-wear, watches, fine jewelry and handbags priced over 1,000 euros retail, Toledano said.
The repositioning effort has “worked very well in Europe,” meaning some store locations driven by access products are under scrutiny, Toledano said, disclosing that Dior boutiques in Palm Beach and Puerto Rico recently were shuttered.
“We want to continue to put Dior at the top level in the luxury market,” he said. “We see the benefits on the cosmetics business. We have more and more synergies.”
Toledano said Dior would continue to expand its retail network in 2009, with more locations planned for China and the Middle East, as well as St. Petersburg in Russia. The company added 15 stores in 2008.
Dior has been driving its product mix and retail environments more and more upscale to reflect its stature as a pillar of Paris high fashion, exemplified by John Galliano’s summer couture collection inspired by Dutch Masters and Dior’s New Look legacy.
Details about the Dior business were released in tandem with results for Christian Dior SA, the parent of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and the Dior fashion house. Revenues at the holding company rose 4 percent to 17.93 billion, or $26.38 billion, while the group share of net profits declined 9.5 percent to 796 million euros, or $1.17 billion. In organic terms, revenues grew 7 percent in 2008.
The sales figures closely echo the LVMH annual results announced last week, which showed resilience amid the downturn, thanks to double-digit organic growth at Louis Vuitton and the strong performance of Sephora and the perfumes and cosmetics division.
Indeed, Dior’s strong fashion image continues to pump up the fortunes of its beauty business, which LVMH said posted a “record year in terms of revenue and profitability” as the luxury giant posted a 4 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenues and 2008 profits of 2.03 billion euros, or $2.98 billion at average exchange rates.
LVMH trumpeted the “excellent progress” of Diorshow Iconic mascara and Dior Addict makeup lines, along with successful fragrance launches Dior Homme Sport and Escale à Portofino. For its 2009 outlook, LVMH said makeup creativity would continue to be inspired by Dior’s couture, with products such as Diorskin Nude.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast