Moncler at Madison Avenue.

MILAN Moncler SpA continued to grow in all its key markets in the first three months of the year. In the period ended March 31, revenues climbed 16 percent to 276.2 million euros, or $292.7 million, compared with 237.3 million euros, or $261 million, in the first quarter of 2016.

“I am very proud of the results Moncler has achieved across markets and channels, demonstrating continued brand momentum and the effectiveness of our strategy,” said Remo Ruffini, chairman and chief executive officer. “In the first quarter, revenues again grew by double digits, despite a challenging base of comparison. These results have also benefited from the retail excellence project, which has strengthened further our company’s culture and operations. Excellence, quality, focus and passion are the values that we ask our people to share at all levels, and we are working on significant projects related to our monobrand store network which will be key for the future of the brand.”

Ruffini concluded by saying that “while the year has only just begun and there are many important, challenging months ahead, I am confident the team remains focused and is working hard to achieve our goals.”

Sales outside of Italy grew 18 percent to 237 million euros, or $251.2 million.

In Italy, revenues rose 7 percent to 39.1 million euros, or $41.4 million, accounting for 14.2 percent of the total, lifted by both distribution channels. “We are extremely satisfied with the performance in Italy,” said Paola Durante, Moncler’s investor relations and strategic planning director, during a conference call with analysts, pointing to “an accelerated positive trend” in all key markets.

In the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, sales climbed 22 percent to 82.9 million euros, or $87.8 million, representing 30 percent of the total, driven by the United Kingdom, which was “outstanding,” said Durante, and Germany and France. The latter saw double-digit growth and “an improved trend with both local and travelers,” although she admitted this was “on an easier comparison base.”

Chief corporate officer Luciano Santel said prices had not been adjusted in the U.K. with the spring-summer season, but that Moncler “will be adjusting them a little bit with the fall-winter season in the U.K.”

In Asia and the rest of the world, revenues increased 16 percent to 115.2 million euros, or $122.1 million, representing 41.7 percent of the total. When one analyst believed this was a slowdown in the area, Santel argued that the company was “very happy” with the performance as this was achieved against a “very strong first quarter last year,” which saw a 30 percent gain, which had been “allocated to Hong Kong.”

“We don’t see any negative. All markets performed well, Korea, China and Japan,” said Santel, admitting Hong Kong was weaker. “Mainland China showed a very good fourth quarter and it still keeps growing, after many quarters [of increases].”

Pressed by analysts about Hong Kong, Santel said it had become “more material at the least in the past three to four years. Business grew a lot and kept growing also when everyone reported a slowdown, for us Hong Kong was very good and not very weak.” He said a new store at Pacific Place, opened in the last quarter, was performing “very well” and in line with plans, but he conceded that the growth rate in Hong Kong was lower than in Mainland China.

Moncler continued its solid growth in Mainland China, mainly driven by the performance of the retail channel. Outstanding results were achieved also in Korea, which benefited from the control over the region, said Durante,  demonstrating the success of the Moncler-Shinsegae joint venture.

In Japan, both distribution channels recorded very good performances, as a result of particularly strong brand perception in that market. “We are very happy with the recent opening of our flagship in Tokyo’s Ginza,” said Durante.

Durante also pointed to a growing number of traveling Chinese, as well as Koreans and Taiwanese, in Europe and in particular in France.  Santel said the price gap between China and Europe, which had been a problem in 2015,  had been adjusted last year.  “We keep monitoring prices and we are now in the region of 50 percent [differential],” he said.

Durante said Russian tourists are returning to Europe as well. “We are seeing a very good performance and a very important growth, a good trend from the last quarter last year.”

In the Americas, revenues grew 16 percent to 38.9 million euros, or $41.2 million, representing 14.1 percent of the total, supported by solid performances in both channels. When one analyst pointed to a deceleration in the region, Santel disagreed, noting that this compares with a 35 percent gain in the last quarter last year, which also compares with a very weak last quarter in 2015, dented by a bout of warm weather in the region.

In the U.S., retail benefited from important new stores opened, such as the New York Madison Avenue flagship in October. “It’s too early to judge but we are confident and happy and there is a strong potential to be exploited,” said Santel.

There are plans to open 15 shop-in-shops in 2017 and half of them are expected to stand in North America.  Santel said that the sell-through of the spring/summer season in department stores in the U.S. was “very good.” Canada continues to produce good results, particularly in the wholesale channel.

Durante said that the company has already secured 14 locations for the year, including the recently opened store in Melbourne, its first in Australia. Works on the expansion of Milan’s Via Montenapoleone store have begun. “This will become the largest store in the world and will close over the summer and reopen in October,” said Durante.

In terms of product, Santel said the company has invested in the differentiation of categories, “strongly believing in their potential. Results are good and the growth rate is higher than the average and of outerwear. We don’t want to push too much the other categories, we aim for customers to ask for them and this is happening. We believe in the potential of knits. Shoes and bags are still important but we have work to do. We are doing better [with these categories] but it’s still not particularly significant. The attention is on knitwear.”

Revenues from the retail channel were up 20 percent to 203.9 million euros, or $216.1 million. The wholesale channel recorded a 7 percent gain in revenues to 72.3 million euros, or $76.6 million.

As of March 31, the monobrand network of stores totaled 191 directly operated stores, an increase of one unit compared to the end of December, and 45 wholesale shop-in-shops, an increase of three units compared to the end of December last year.

In the quarter, Moncler opened a shop-in-shop at the Doha airport. “Travel retail is very important and strategic but we approach it in a very selective way as we do with other stores,” said Santel. “We don’t aim to open travel retail in every airport, only where the brand image is enhanced.” A door opened last year in Seoul, and the company is targeting Munich, Taipei and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle.

Two shop-in-shops opened in Dubai and in Toronto.

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