PARIS — Propelled in part by a 150 percent increase in sales of women’s footwear, Christian Dior Couture saw its first-quarter revenues vault 19 percent to $135.5 million.
Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates. Excluding the impact of currency fluctuations, sales advanced 29 percent.
While the numbers were shy of the 45 percent increase logged by Dior in the year-ago quarter, Dior president and chief executive Sidney Toledano said they were on plan and far ahead of many of its competitors in a difficult trading environment exacerbated by the war in Iraq.
"The momentum is still very strong," he said in an interview. "In the current economy, we are gaining a lot of market share. We’re still expecting significant growth for the full year."
Toledano cited strength across all product categories, highlighting "strong growth" in men’s wear designed by Hedi Slimane. He declined to pinpoint figures for Dior Homme, but said they exceeded the overall figures for the house, which spans couture, women’s ready-to-wear, fine jewelry, leather goods and accessories. He noted that the "average basket" and average ticket also went up in the period, suggesting its consumers are not trading down in price.
The SARS outbreak in Asia has dented sales at Dior’s four outlets in Hong Kong in recent weeks, but Toledano held out hope the health scare would be short-lived. Indeed, a new Dior location in Hong Kong, on Peking Road, is slated to bow next month. Two other units, in Manhasset, N.Y., and Saint-Tropez, are also on the boards for the second quarter.
Toledano added that most other regions performed well, particularly Japan and the West Coast. Dior operates 145 stores at present and plans to open about 20 more in the calendar year.
Analysts characterized the results as roughly in line with those of Dior’s sister company, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which saw overall sales fall 5.2 percent to $3 billion despite double-digit gains at Louis Vuitton, as reported.
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