Business News: Richemont Reports Flat Watch Sales and Losses Online

In its half-year results.

Having just announced its six-month results to the end of September, luxury conglomerate Richemont eked out a rise in sales driven by its jewellery division, with its online business staying in the red and watchmakers showing no growth.

Sales rose 9% increase to €7.397 billion, with a stable net profit of €869 million, based on actual exchange rates.

The group reported double-digit sales growth in China, Korea, Japan, the US and the United Kingdom. But overall sales in Asia Pacific, which accounts for 37% of the group’s sales, has been subdued, mostly due to the political unrest in Hong Kong, which accounts for around 10% of the group’s revenue. The city saw sales drop by double digits.

Richemont’s jewellery brands, namely Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, though it just added Buccellati to its portfolio, reported an 8% rise in sales. Notably, it was led by a higher increase in watch sales than jewellery.

Prospects for the group’s watch brands, which include IWC and Panerai, have been muted due to the slump in its biggest market, Hong Kong. Richemont singled out Panerai, A. Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin as enjoying the highest growth within the watch division, which is notable for the fact that these brands are not usually the drivers of growth, at least in recent years.

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In terms of sales channels, retail sales at Richemont’s own stores were up by 4%, but wholesale via third-party retailers fell 1%. Most of the wholesale business is done by its jewellers, while its watch brands rely on external retailers.

Finally, Richemont’s twin online sales platforms continue to bleed. The online division, made up of fashion retailer Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) and pre-owned watch merchant Watchfinder, reported 32% growth in revenue – coupled with a 69% increase in operating losses.

That was attributed to a lower gross margin, higher promotion and shipping costs, as well as higher investments in technology and logistics migration, and marketing – or it could also be the adoption of the growth-at-all-costs strategy favoured by many internet retailers.


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