By  on February 8, 2007

PARIS – Robust sales of perfumes, silk scarves and leather handbags drove solid holiday business at Hermes International, propelling fourth-quarter sales up 6 percent to 463.3 million euros, or $597.5 million at average exchange rates for the period. Stripping out the impact of currency, the increase stood at 9.9 percent, in line with analysts’ expectations.

While Hermes' overall pace trailed the double-digit gains logged by many of its luxury peers, the French firm trumpeted increases across all its product categories and cited good momentum in most regions except Japan, hampered by a “rather unfavorable environment.”

“We are very much within our forecast,” Patrick Thomas, chief executive officer of Hermes, told WWD. “For 2007, our expectation is a growth rate between 8 and 10 percent, with real ambitions to be at 10 percent.”

Underscoring his confidence is strong growth in Europe, China and the United States, where in the first half Hermes will open a unit in Charlotte, N.C., and a major flagship on Wall Street in New York. “There is a strong evolution of the American customer towards quality, and the ready-to-wear is also selling very well,” he said. “We expect a good 2007 in the States.”

In China, Hermes plans to open four stores in 2007, bringing its complement to 13. In total, the company plans to renovate or upon more than 20 stores this year.

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