Hermès Sees Opportunity in Jewelry

The category is poised to be a major growth engine this year, ceo Axel Dumas said Tuesday at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Paris.

PARIS — Jewelry, particularly in gold, is the fastest-growing product category at Hermès International, and is poised to be a major growth engine this year, chief executive officer Axel Dumas said Tuesday.

This story first appeared in the June 4, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Addressing the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting here, Dumas noted that sales of jewelry are listed under “other Hermès sectors,” a category that vaulted 36.5 percent in 2013.

Ready-to-wear and fashion accessories — particularly belts and footwear — were also cited as key expansion vectors for the future.

He also noted newer handbag styles like the Maxibox and Pliplat are gaining traction among the 50,000 stockkeeping units that represent the brand’s creative output beyond iconic styles like the Birkin.

Sounding sanguine, Dumas trumpeted robust business in the Americas, Japan and Asia-Pacific, downplaying widely publicized fears of a slowdown in China.

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He noted that anticorruption measures mainly affected watchmakers and liquor marketers, and that Chinese tastes are evolving rapidly away from logos and toward more discreet, high-quality products à la Hermès.

Hermès ended the year with 315 boutiques, of which 203 are directly operated.

It is slated to open its fifth Hermès Maison, a unit that showcases all product categories along with cultural attractions, in Shanghai in September. The other maisons are in Paris, New York, Tokyo and Seoul.

Dumas largely skirted questions about its largest non-family shareholder, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which has amassed a 23.1 percent stake, but reiterated that it did not wish to have rivals as shareholders.

The free float for the listed company is estimated at 6.3 percent of the share capital.

Dumas, who took over as sole ceo in January after sharing the role for six months with Hermès veteran Patrick Thomas, screened a video clip that paid homage to Thomas, with praise from family members for his rigorously professional management. Thomas was the first Hermès ceo not to be a member of one of the controlling shareholder families.