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Kering Shares Jump, Buoying Luxury Peers With Bullish China View

Shares in luxury group, which had been particularly hit in the past three months over worries Gucci was running out of steam, were up 8.2 percent.
Gucci Spring 2019 show | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Reuters

PARIS, France — Kering led a share price rally in the luxury goods sector on Wednesday after sales at its star Gucci brand proved more resilient than expected and the company provided a rosy outlook for demand among Chinese consumers.

Fears of a slowdown in spending by Chinese shoppers, against the backdrop of a trade war between Beijing and Washington, had sparked a sell-off in recent weeks across the sector.

High-end fashion brands rely heavily on this clientele, which makes up at least a third of all luxury goods purchases, and a weakening pace of economic growth in China has only compounded concerns.

While Kering and other players have argued spending by China's young, middle class shoppers was unlikely to drop off abruptly, better-than-expected third quarter sales from the French conglomerate on Tuesday helped drive the point home.

Shares in Kering, which had been particularly hit in the past three months over worries Gucci was running out of steam, were up 8.2 percent by 0906 GMT.

That lifted the stock market prices of rivals such as Louis Vuitton owner LVMH, the industry's biggest conglomerate, Britain's Burberry, which is trying to engineer a sales boost, and Italian puffer jacket maker Moncler , due to report sales figures later on Wednesday.

"In terms of spending power, the situation is still quite sound in China. The demographics should help as well," Jean-Marc Duplaix, Kering's financial director, told an analyst conference call on Tuesday.

He added Kering was if anything seeing an improvement in the retention rate of Chinese millenial customers, or those in the roughly early 20s to mid-30s age bracket, and that overall, demand had so far not dipped.

That extended into the beginning of the fourth quarter at Gucci, Duplaix said.

"All the events especially in China we had in September or in October, we saw quite good figures. I think that underlying trends are still very, very, very solid," he said.

Not all luxury brands have benefited equally from a strong rebound in Chinese demand over the past two years, and the highly-valued sector is still vulnerable to a sell-off if concerns rear their head again.

Kering's Bottega Veneta handbag brand suffered more than expected in the third quarter, and others like Burberry and Salvatore Ferragamo are still in turnaround mode.

"Third quarter sales were encouraging, with strong underlying trends," Berenberg analysts wrote in a note on Kering. "The strong sequential deceleration at the still struggling Bottega Veneta ... showed that the widely feared slowdown in luxury demand seems to have affected only the more troubled brands so far."

By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Sarah White; editor: Mark Potter.

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