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PARIS — French beauty group L’Occitane International SA said on Monday it is focusing on its omnichannel sales strategy and digital marketing with the group’s web sell-out channels – driven particularly by T-mall in China – among the few bright spots in a slow first half.

L’Occitane posted first-half net profits of 10.7 million euros, down 59.4 percent year-on-year, impacted by unfavorable foreign exchange rates, one-off effects and strong seasonality.

Net sales in the six-month period ended Sept. 30 eased 0.6 percent on a like-for-like basis to 548.2 million euros, while the group’s operating profits fell 28.9 percent to 13.8 million euros.

But its gross margin — a key indicator of profitability – was up 0.6 points versus the same period a year ago to 82.8 percent.

Sales from the group’s web sell-out channels, including own e-commerce and marketplaces, rose 22.6 percent at constant rates.

Regarding brands, the group said its emerging brands “remained on track” and contributed more to overall growth, with Melvita and Erborian delivering double-digit growth. In terms of markets, L’Occitane Brazil maintained strong mid-double-digit growth, excluding a one-off deal from last year.

China and Brazil were the fastest-growing markets, with sales in the period rising 22.7 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively, with a brand ambassador campaign featuring Chinese artist Lu Han contributing to the group’s performance in China.

A new female brand ambassador will soon come on board to promote face care products in L’Occitane’s three main Greater China markets: mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Also in the pipeline are two new flagship stores planned for Regent Street in London and Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, with the latter billed as a one-of-a-kind concept store in partnership with famous French pastry chef Pierre Hermé.

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