PARIS, France — L'Oréal SA’s high-end beauty products were boosted by rising demand in China that also helped lift competitor LVMH in the start of the year.
First-quarter sales rose 6.8 percent on a like-for-like basis, the Paris-based company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts had estimated a gain of 5.5 percent.
L'Oréal is the world’s biggest cosmetics maker, with a stable of over 30 global brands. But luxury labels like Lancome and Kiehl’s have been growing faster than supermarket staples like Garnier as China’s rising middle class discovers a taste for fine skin creams and makeup.
Booming demand in China has also supported luxury leader LVMH, whose shares surged to a record this week as first-quarter sales topped analysts’ estimates.
During the quarter, L'Oréal started to take U.S. skin-care brand CeraVe global, launching it last month in 30 new markets. This winter, L'Oréal launched a new luxury grooming brand for men, House 99, a joint venture with soccer superstar David Beckham. The company also renewed its license with Giorgio Armani SpA to sell perfumes and makeup using the fashion designer’s name for a further 30 years.
The company has worked to revitalize its mass-market offer by introducing more naturally inspired products like Garnier Whole Blends shampoo, which features ingredients like avocado oil and coconut water. It has taken that approach to its salon products division as well, creating a new line of organic hair dyes made from indigo and henna that are set to hit the market this spring.
Online sales jumped by more than a third during the quarter, the statement said.
By Robert Williams; editors: Eric Pfanner, John J. Edwards III and John Lauerman.