By  on May 6, 2009

PARIS — L’Oréal reported Wednesday its first-quarter 2009 sales rose 0.3 percent to 4.37 billion euros, or $5.72 billion at average exchange in the period, versus first-quarter 2008. The French beauty giant’s luxury products division was especially impacted by the economic crisis.

On a like-for-like basis, L’Oréal’s revenues fell 4.3 percent in the period.

Sales of the company’s luxury products division dipped 0.4 percent to 926 million euros, or $1.21 billion. On a comparable basis, they dropped 17.5 percent.

L’Oréal’s professional products’ division’s sales fell 3.2 percent to 601 million euros, or $787.3 million. Its consumer products’ divisions’ revenues rose 1.6 percent to 2.19 billion euros, or $2.87 billion. And the active cosmetics division’s sales decreased 3.9 percent to 392 million euros, or $513.5 million.

“It’s a first quarter which is rather atypical owing to the results of the luxury division which…is in large part linked to the effects of destocking,” said Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal’s chief executive officer, during a conference call with financial analysts Wednesday. “The good news in the first quarter is that some markets have remained positive. We’re confident that the cosmetics market will be resilient over the year. We’re confident in our ability to see a gradual improvement of our growth performance over the next quarters.”

For yearend, Agon said, “We continue to think what we said in February. We think that the beauty market could indeed remain very slightly positive.”

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