HERMES 2000 SALES UP 25%, APPROACHING $1.1 BILLION

PARIS — Citing an acceleration of sales in the fourth quarter, Hermes said Tuesday consolidated sales for 2000 jumped 25 percent, to nearly $1.1 billion. (Dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.) At constant exchange rates, sales grew 14.2 percent, the company said in a statement.
Hermes said sales were “well balanced between the three main continents.” In Europe, sales increased 14 percent, thanks to strong tourism. The firm singled out new-store openings in Moscow and Germany, as well as its recently refurbished Milan unit, as key contributors.
French companies report sales and earnings separately. Hermes will announce earnings on March 20 during its annual shareholders meeting.
Hermes did not furnish specifics for the fourth quarter, but provided pie charts to illustrate that sales were spread across geographic regions and product categories in 2000.
In America, sales rose 21 percent. Hermes attributed this growth to “the exceptionally warm welcome that New York customers bestowed” on the unit it opened on Madison Avenue last September, as well as strong growth in stores on the West Coast and Hawaii. Late last year, the store also opened its first unit in Santiago, Chile, as well as inaugurating a John Lobb shop in New York. Hermes controls the John Lobb luxury shoe business.
Meanwhile, Hermes reported a 14 percent sales spike in Asia.
“Sales were up throughout the Asian countries, thanks to the development of local clienteles, the boom in tourism, and new stores in Taiwan and South Korea,” the statement said.
By region, Japan accounted for 25 percent of sales; France for 22 percent; the Americas 17 percent; Europe, excluding France, 17 percent; Asia/Pacific 15 percent; and others 4 percent.
By category, Hermes said sales of its women’s ready-to-wear, designed by Martin Margiela, increased 35 percent. Although leather goods business increased 19 percent, Hermes said sales were “still appreciably below demand.” Silk sales increased 9 percent and watches 7 percent, while shoes, jewelry and home accessories soared 54 percent.
In its perfume division, the launch in the second half of the new women’s fragrance Rouge Hermes helped push volume up 11 percent.
Looking ahead, Hermes said it will continue to develop its retail web this year. Key openings include a 12-story unit in Tokyo’s Ginza district, scheduled to be opened this summer, as well as stores in Shanghai and Pusan, South Korea. Four new stores in Europe — Lisbon, Barcelona, Naples and Basel — are also slated to bow this year.
In the U.S., the company plans to launch an e-commerce site selling silk scarves, ties and perfumes this year. Further details could not be learned; chairman Jean-Louis Dumas was not available for comment.
Hermes first indicated its interest in e-commerce at a shareholders meeting last May. At the time, Dumas said any online presence would be geared to selling merchandise and overseen directly by the company. “Fragrances, watches or agendas could be very good for electronic sales,” he said, acknowledging that goods customers like to inspect, like a Kelly bag, might not be suited to online sales.
The French luxury goods firm has been a consistent performer in the sector. In 1999, net profits soared 33 percent, to $115.6 million, on a sales increase of 21 percent, to $901.2 million.
The 2000 sales figures were issued after the market closed. Shares in Hermes closed down 1 percent on the Paris bourse to $134.48.

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