MILAN — Lifted by a stellar performance in China and a strong recovery of its watch division, Bulgari Group said revenues in the first quarter climbed 27.5 percent to 253.8 million euros, or $355.3 million at average exchange rates, compared with the same period last year.

This story first appeared in the April 20, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


All product categories posted a double-digit growth, with sales in Bulgari’s core jewelry division rising 29.3 percent, accounting for 44.9 percent of revenues. Watches gained 21.9 percent; fragrances, 32.9 percent, and accessories, 19 percent.

Bulgari grew across all geographic markets. In Asia, sales surged 33.5 percent, propelled by a 76 percent growth in Greater China. Asia represents Bulgari’s biggest market, accounting for 48.2 percent of revenues. In Japan, despite the closure of stores following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear tragedy last month, sales rose 10.5 percent. Revenues in Europe climbed 16.5 percent and in the Americas, 20.2 percent. The Middle East/other region showed a “robust recovery,” growing 59.8 percent.

A company spokeswoman said Bulgari decided to release first-quarter sales to “be in line with the communication of LVMH [Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton],” which revealed its own sales Monday. In March, LVMH agreed to acquire 50.4 percent of the jeweler in a cash-and-share swap with the founding Bulgari family. LVMH plans to make a bid for the remainder of the company and is set to pay 4.3 billion euros, or $6.01 billion. The deal will double the size of LVMH’s watch and jewelry division, make the Bulgari family the second-largest family shareholders in LVMH, with a 3.3 percent stake, and give Bulgari the financial muscle to expand its product categories and retail network around the world.

A delisting of Bulgari is expected by the end of July, following the payment of a dividend of 0.12 euro, or 16 cents at current exchange, at the end of May.

Bulgari chief executive officer Francesco Trapani is to join the executive committee of LVMH and take the management helm of the French group’s watch and jewelry division in the second half of the year and eventually leave his current post.

On Tuesday, Bulgari shares closed up 0.08 percent at 12.27 euros, or $17.29.

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