PARIS — Driven by growing tourist trade and strong sales in the U.S. and Asia, Christian Dior Couture on Tuesday reported first-half revenue that rose 16 percent to 274 million euros, or $336.2 million at average exchange.

The fashion house said operating profit for the six months through June increased by more than 30 percent. Like most French firms, Dior reports sales and earnings separately. It is expected to provide full profits in September. At constant exchanges rates, Dior said sales in the period grew 20 percent.

Dior president Sidney Toledano called the results strong and indicative of luxury’s building momentum. He said second-quarter sales surged 26 percent to 138 million euros, or $166.3 million, and that he expects revenue “in line with that of the first half in the second. We expect the momentum to carry over.”

Toledano said volume grew at double-digit rates across geographical zones, led by the U.S., where retail sales in dollars bounded by 40 percent. “There has been a very good dynamic in Hong Kong, China, Japan and Taiwan,” he said.

Meanwhile, Toledano reported resurgent business in Europe, which has lagged behind the U.S. and Asia since the beginning of luxury’s comeback late last year. The luxury segment has gained momentum as economies in key markets such as the U.S. and Asia have strengthened. The result has been stronger sales across the board, but especially at high-end retailers.

“June was good in Europe,” he said. “Even in Paris [which has suffered from fewer tourists], sales grew at double digits. There has been a return of tourist business in Paris. I was in Florence last week and was surprised by the number of Americans in the store. Japanese are traveling again, and last week there were a lot of Middle Eastern clients in the Paris stores.”

Toledano said sales were robust in all categories, from the women’s ready-to-wear and accessories designed by John Galliano to the men’s wear by Hedi Slimane and the high jewelry created by Victoire de Castellane.

Sales of Christian Dior beauty products and fragrance will be integrated into Dior parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s first-half revenue, the report of which is expected on Thursday.

This story first appeared in the July 21, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In the second half, Dior will continue to build its retail web. As of the end of June, the firm operated 167 stores. Toledano said another dozen or so stores will bow in the second half, including a flagship in Tokyo’s Ginza and stand-alone Dior Homme stores in Kobe and Shanghai.