Watches, Asia-Pacific Fuel Richemont Sales

Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, the Geneva-based luxury goods group, said Wednesday that revenues grew 9.8 percent in the financial year ended March...

LONDON — Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, the Geneva-based luxury goods group, said Wednesday that revenues grew 9.8 percent in the financial year ended March 31 to 5.3 billion euros, or $7.5 billion, from 4.82 billion euros, or $6.8 billion.

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The company attributed the rise in sales to strong growth in Richemont’s specialist watch-making businesses and a growing demand for its luxury goods in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in China and Hong Kong.

Richemont’s brand portfolio includes Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloé, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc, IWC watches and Jaeger-LeCoultre. The company released a trading statement Wednesday and said it would publish full results for the financial year ended March 31 on May 22.

The company’s sales also accelerated in the three months ended March 31, with an 11 percent rise in revenues to 1.08 billion euros, or $1.52 billion. In comparison, sales in the three months ended Dec. 31 grew by 8 percent compared with the same period last year. (Richemont did not break out fourth-quarter figures separately.) However, full-year sales growth did slow slightly compared with the year ended March 2007, during which sales grew by 12 percent.

“The strong growth in sales of luxury products during the first nine months continued during the final quarter of the financial year,” the company said.

Richemont said sales growth was only marred by the weakness of the dollar and yen, which adversely affected figures in those regions when they were converted into euros. The company said that at constant exchange rates, total sales would have risen 16 percent in the full year.

Goldman Sachs in London called the sale figures “a particularly reassuring set of results,” in a research note Wednesday. “[They reaffirm] the resilience of the high end and watch segment in particular,” the company added.

Sales at Richemont’s specialist watchmaking division were a highlight and grew 15 percent during the period. The company added that IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre experienced the strongest rise in sales. Meanwhile, sales at the company’s jewelry firms rose 9 percent to 2.6 billion euros, or $3.7 billion, from 2.4 billion euros, or $3.4 billion. All figures have been converted from the euro at average exchange rates for the respective periods.

Montblanc’s sales grew 9 percent over the year, and the company said an increasing proportion of sales had come from the brand’s leather goods, watches and jewelry. Lancel’s sales declined during the period, during which the company introduced new products at higher price points.

Sales at the company’s other businesses, including Chloé, grew 8 percent during the year. The company said Chloé’s sales were “in line with the prior year,” during which they grew 50 percent. The company said its acquisitions during the year, which included the watch component manufacturer Donze-Baume SA and a stake in Azzedine Alaïa, had contributed to the sales growth of its other businesses category.

By region, sales in Europe and the Middle East, which represent 43 percent of total sales, grew 12 percent during the period to 2.29 billion euros, or $3.2 billion, from 2 billion euros, or $2.9 billion. Sales in the Americas grew by 3 percent at actual exchange rates but, at constant exchange rates, would have risen by 13 percent. Sales in the Asia-Pacific region grew 21 percent to 1.29 billion euros, or $1.83 billion.

However, the company’s sales in Japan declined 5 percent during the period to 698 million euros, or $988 million. Richemont described the Japanese market as “challenging throughout the year,” and said that its “limited” growth in sales in the region was offset by the weakness of the yen, which meant lower sales in terms of euros.