PARIS — Highlighting strong demand for its Marlene Dietrich-inspired line of clothes and leather goods for women, Christian Dior said its first-quarter sales grew 8 percent to $162.2 million, or 136 million euros. At constant exchange rates, the increase was 14 percent.
Dior noted the rise came on top of a strong first quarter in 2003, when sales surged 29 percent in organic terms. Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange.
What’s more, Dior president Sidney Toledano said April is showing the same trend of “strong double-digit” growth, which bodes well for the second quarter and beyond.
“We are really very confident for the rest of the year,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “Through the launch of new products and the expansion of our [retail] network, we should have a very positive 2004.”
Toledano said all regions of the world showed double-digit growth in local currencies, with the U.K. and U.S. logging the most robust increases — in excess of 30 percent in the quarter.
All product categories advanced by double digits, too, he added, led by gains in footwear of more than 50 percent at constant currency. Besides the Dietrich line by couturier John Galliano, Dior reported strong sales of its “girly” pink logo items, fine jewelry inspired by ID bracelets by Victoire de Castellane and men’s wear and silver accessories and jewelry by Hedi Slimane.
Dior, which ended 2003 with 159 stores, plans to add at least 15 units this year, including locations in Hong Kong, Kobe, Osaka and Tokyo. Equally active on its home turf, Dior plans to inaugurate its long-awaited unit on Rue Royale in June.
Toledano also disclosed that the former Christian Lacroix boutique on Avenue Montaigne, adjacent to the Dior flagship, would soon showcase Dior Homme luggage, accessories and jewelry.
He mentioned that the Dior boutique on Faubourg Saint-Honoré, only a few blocks away from the forthcoming Rue Royale store, would house a “new concept” being developed by Slimane, but he declined to elaborate.
The Dior results confirm a strong rebound in the luxury sector and were largely in line with those of its sister company, the luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which posted 10 percent organic growth in the first quarter, as reported.