Consensus amongst many industry insiders at Baselworld 2017 was that the stable of watch and jewellery names owned by LVMH – Bulgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith – are doing well relative to their peers. That appears to have been borne out by the luxury group’s first quarter results for 2017, with Bulgari and TAG Heuer singled out for “market share gains”.
Quarterly revenue at the luxury powerhouse that owns Louis Vuitton (its Parisian art museum designed by Frank Gehry is pictured above) rose 13% at constant exchange rates, while its watch and jewellery division saw an 11% rise in sales. In more ordinary times that might seem a meagre figure, but times are tough for the luxury watch business.
In comparison, LVMH rival Richemont’s most recent quarter (until December 2016) was less impressive, perhaps explaining the management overhaul earlier this year. The Swiss group that owns watchmakers like IWC and Panerai saw group sales rise only 6%, helped by its jewellery business, with the watchmaking division seeing a dip of 2%.
That being said, the sales growth at LVMH comes off from a low base. Last year the group recorded revenue growth of just 6%, with the figure for the watch and jewellery division being 5%. It prudently notes in the announcement: “The trend currently observed cannot reasonably be extrapolated for the full year.”
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