PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said strong demand for Louis Vuitton’s Monogram handbags and Bulgari jewels helped fuel a 9 percent rise in revenues in the second quarter, despite continued weakness in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Sustained by solid growth in Europe and the U.S., the increase in organic sales compared with a rise of 3 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and an increase of 3 percent in the second quarter of 2014. On a reported basis, revenues jumped 23 percent in the three months ended June 30, reflecting the impact of the weak euro.
“The excellent results of the first half are witness to the efficiency of our strategy, which relies upon the strength of our brands and a very entrepreneurial style of management,” Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH, said in a statement published after the market’s close.
“Building on the first-half performances, we face the second half of the year with confidence and count on the quality of our products and the talent of our teams to further strengthen our leadership in the world of high quality products,” he added.
Revenues totaled 8.38 billion euros, or $9.27 billion, in the second quarter.
In the first half of the year, profit from continuing operations rose 15 percent to 2.95 billion euros, or $3.30 billion, helped by a 91 percent progression in the watches and jewelry division. Net profit increased 5 percent to 1.58 billion euros, or $1.76 billion, LVMH said.
By region, organic growth in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, declined 5 percent in the second quarter following a 6 percent drop in the first trimester. Japan saw organic growth jump to 34 percent during the period, after posting a 10 percent decrease in the first three months of the year.
The U.S. was up 12 percent, versus 9 percent in the first quarter, while Europe gained 14 percent, up from 10 percent previously.
The fashion and leather goods division registered a sharp improvement in the second quarter, with organic growth accelerating to 10 percent versus 1 percent in the first three months of the year.
Louis Vuitton posted strong demand for handbags in the Monogram range and new leather lines. The brand’s sales to Chinese customers in all geographies in local currencies rose by more than 10 percent in the first semester, but they were down 10 percent in Greater China, said LVMH chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony.
“Given the pricing situation, there is a shift of business from Greater China into other geographies such as Japan and Europe, and these two areas are benefiting from that,” he said during a conference call.
In order to help rectify the imbalance, Louis Vuitton implemented a 5 percent average increase in the price of its handbags in Europe in the second quarter, following a 3 percent rise in the first quarter, but LVMH is not planning any adjustment to its pricing structure, Guiony said.
“The novelties, the new products, in most brands — it’s not unique to Vuitton — are being introduced at price differences, which are more in line with what we used to have in the past. So the prices will progressively adjust with novelties, but we don’t intend at this point in time to implement a sort of global pricing adjustment,” he said.
Meanwhile, LVMH has joined other luxury groups in seeking to renegotiate rents in Hong Kong, though Guiony was still relatively upbeat about the territory’s potential.
“It still is a very, very profitable place for us,” he noted. “When you go to the best places in Hong Kong — Canton Road, etc. — you still feel that there is a lot of demand for very expensive spaces.”
Fendi and Céline also saw strong momentum from Chinese customers in the first half, Guiony said. Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan continued the repositioning of their collections, weighing on margins for the division.
Business at Marc Jacobs was “sharply down” as wholesale clients wait to see how the brand implements the assimilation of the contemporary Marc by Marc Jacobs label into the signature Marc Jacobs collection, as part of an ambitious plan to grow the company in anticipation of a possible IPO, the executive reported.
“We are, I would say, in the eye of the hurricane,” Guiony said.
“We expect with further collections, and in particular with spring-summer next year, to see some improvement, but it will be gradual. Our customers will not take for granted the changes that we intend to implement at Marc Jacobs and obviously it’s a fairly lengthy process,” he added.
The changes at Donna Karan are “less dramatic,” he said, referring to plans to change the creative direction of the label with the exit of its founding designer, simplify the branding with the suspension of the Donna Karan Collection and focusing on DKNY and cost cutting.
In the watches and jewelry division, organic growth increased to 13 percent in the second quarter from 7 percent in the first three months of the year, driven by “remarkable numbers” in jewelry. Watches again lagged behind, with Tag Heuer impacted by the buyback of old inventory as it refocuses on its core offering.
Wines and spirits saw organic revenue growth rise 5 percent in the second quarter, versus a 1 percent decline in the first quarter. Cognac house Hennessy returned to organic growth during the period, as a strong performance in the U.S. helped compensate for continued destocking by distributors in China.
Organic growth was stable at 6 percent in perfumes and cosmetics and 5 percent in selective retailing. Parfums Christian Dior is gearing up for the launch of a new men’s fragrance, fronted by Johnny Depp, in the second half, part of a slew of product launches that LVMH forecasts will help it gain market share globally.
The French luxury group gave no specific guidance for the second half other than to increase its global leadership position in luxury goods.
It plans to pay an interim dividend of 1.35 euros, or $1.50 at current exchange, on Dec. 3, compared with 1.25 euros, or $1.66, in 2014. Dollar rates are calculated at average exchange rates for the periods concerned.