PARIS — Declines in the fourth quarter and in the U.S. limited French luxury firm Hermes International to a 6 percent sales gain last year.

The company said Tuesday that its 2001 sales rose 6 percent, to $1.1 billion versus $1 billion in 2000, despite a 23 percent increase in Japanese revenues. Sales declined 2.5 percent in the year’s final quarter and U.S. sales dropped 5 percent for the year. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

Hermes said sales for 2002 “should continue to grow thanks to the strong potential of the brand, the success of the Hermes House in Tokyo and the expansion of the store network.”

The new Hermes House, designed by architect Renzo Piano, in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, buoyed Hermes in Japan. The innovative building opened to much fanfare last June.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hermes said sales grew 9 percent and were particularly strong in Korea, Thailand, Singapore and China, where Hermes opened a store in Shanghai in December.

In Europe, sales grew 5 percent as eight new stores were tacked on to the firm’s retail network. Hermes said key store openings this year would include: Seoul, South Korea; Kobe, Japan; Montreal, Canada and Naples, Italy.

By category, Hermes said sales of silk items and ready-to-wear were flat, while leather goods increased 8 percent; fragrances, 4 percent; watches, 13 percent, and tablewear, 10 percent. Sales in so-called “other sectors,” which include jewelry and shoes, increased 14 percent.

Hermes’s earnings are expected next month. In 2000, as reported, net income moved ahead 47 percent, to $157.5 million, while operating profits were ahead 51 percent, to $261 million.

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