LONDON — The hot summer months brought a modest sales recovery for Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA, the Swiss luxury goods group and parent company of brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Dunhill.
In a trading statement issued Tuesday, in advance of the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Sept. 17, Richemont said sales in June, July and August rose 1 percent at constant exchange rates.
That upturn came after the SARS virus and the war in Iraq forced April and May sales down 19 percent from prior-year levels, as reported.
Overall, in the five-month period to Aug. 31, sales dropped 7 percent. The Americas were the only region not to suffer from the volume downturn as sales there grew 4 percent.
Tuesday’s statement covered the first five months of its fiscal year and included only sales comparisons. Full earnings and sales results for the first half of the year are scheduled to be released in mid-November.
Sales in the Asia-Pacific region declined 29 percent in April and May, and then surged 6 percent in the three months ending in August.
Overall, during the full five months, sales in the region declined 8 percent from last year’s like period.
Japan fared better, with sales just 1 percent below the corresponding five-month period last year. Sales in July and August were boosted by the opening of Cartier’s new, 8,640-square-foot store in the Ginza district of Tokyo in mid-July. Richemont said the new store was exceeding expectations.
In Europe, sales declined by 13 percent over the five months because of the depressed economic climate and the decline in overseas tourists.
During the April to August period, retail sales at constant exchange rates were 5 percent below last year’s levels, while wholesale sales decreased by 8 percent.
By category, sales at Richemont’s textile and leather businesses declined 12 percent during the five months. This category is already an ailing one, and Richemont acknowledged earlier this year that it was taking steps to restructure the Dunhill and Lancel businesses in particular.
As reported last week, the company will shutter its Dunhill flagship on Old Bond Street in February. It has already shut down nine out of 10 units in the U.S. Only Dunhill’s Manhattan store remains open.
Sales within the jewelry category, including those of the Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels brand, dropped 8 percent during the five-month period. In the watch category, which includes Jaeger LeCoultre, Piaget and IWC, revenues dipped 3 percent. Sales of writing instruments fared mildly better, dipping 2 percent.