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French Luxury Groups to Highlight Sector’s Resilience as Demand Holds up For Now

Louis Vuitton store, Shanghai.
Louis Vuitton store. Shutterstock. (Shutterstock)

French luxury groups LVMH , Gucci-owner Kering and Hermes are expected to post double-digit third-quarter sales growth as demand for high-end fashion from tourists and shoppers revamping post-pandemic wardrobes remains strong.

The sector has sailed above stock market turbulence, lockdowns in China and soaring inflation in recent months, buoyed by its wealthy customer base even as retailers of cheaper clothing and accessories warn of weakening demand.

After cheering a solid quarter, investors will be looking for any signs that appetite for leading fashion labels could also ease from the post-lockdown frenzy that has seen business boom in recent months.

“Resilience will be tested starting in Q4 this year,” said Aurelie Husson-Dumoutier of HSBC.

Slowing economic growth and drops in consumer confidence and US credit card spending paint a “cautious” picture of the consumer in the run-up to the festive season, Thomas Chauvet of Citi warned.

Company strategies for increasing prices, which will likely have helped boost sales and are aimed at protecting margins, will also be scrutinised.

Luxury labels including the industry’s largest, LVMH’s Louis Vuitton, have historically raised prices at around 2.5 times the rate of inflation, according to UBS, which forecasts further price hikes in at least the mid-single digits next year, citing a global inflation forecast of around 4 percent.

Without citing a corresponding inflation figure, UBS estimates prices for the sector increased by 4.6 percent on average this year, through July.

Business in China is expected to have bounced back considerably from the second quarter as COVID lockdown disruption eased, but uncertainty remains.

“China is where companies see high volatility, which makes it difficult to extrapolate trends month-on-month,” noted Luca Solca of Bernstein.

UBS’ Zuzanna Pusz, who ranks among the top 8 analysts covering LVMH in terms of estimate accuracy according to Refinitiv data, forecasts the group will post organic sales growth for the quarter of 21 percent, with a boost from foreign exchange rates. A Visible Alpha consensus cited by the bank points to 13 percent organic sales growth.

Pusz expects 13 percent organic sales growth for Kering and 15 percent growth at constant rates from Hermes, over the period.

LVMH posts third-quarter revenue on Oct. 11, while Kering and Hermes announce results on Oct. 20.

By Mimosa Spencer

Learn more:

Why Luxury Brands Can’t Ignore the Recession Threat Forever

High-end brands continue to report record sales and profits, even as mass retailers trim their outlooks for the autumn and winter. Can it last?

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