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Richemont, Burberry Signal That Luxury Market Is Thriving Again

Cartier store. Shutterstock.
Demand for jewellery, timepieces and fashion items is rebounding as vaccination rates across the world increase. (Shutterstock)

Richemont had its fastest holiday season sales growth in at least a decade and Burberry Group Plc forecast 35 percent earnings growth this year, the latest signs that the luxury-goods market is thriving again.

Richemont said revenue climbed 32 percent at constant currencies in the last quarter, exceeding pre-pandemic levels as consumers splurged on Cartier jewels and Chloe fashion. Burberry has a bit further to go to recover to 2019 levels, though it said sales accelerated as the British maker of trench coats sold more products at full prices.

Demand for jewellery, timepieces and fashion items is rebounding as vaccination rates across the world increase and people socialise and travel more. Prada SpA said Tuesday that its sales recovered to above levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

Richemont shares rose as much as 5.8 percent, while Burberry gained as much as 5 percent.

Jewellery was Richemont’s best-performing unit, though fashion, accessories and leather goods have also been improving, a sign that turnaround efforts have been gaining traction at brands like Chloe and Montblanc.

While the Swiss company’s Asia-Pacific sales beat estimates, investors may be surprised that the increase in China, a key market for luxury, was only 7 percent. Revenue in that market had soared 80 percent in the year-earlier period.

China was the first market to recover in the luxury goods industry, so it’s a bit of a calendar effect. However, recent lockdowns as the country pursues its zero-Covid strategy are set to weigh on consumption there.

Transition Period

Burberry’s comparable store sales grew 7 percent in the three months through Christmas, beating analysts’ estimates. Outerwear and leather goods performed well as the brand said it attracted younger consumers. The UK company is undergoing a transition period with incoming chief executive officer Jonathan Akeroyd set to take the helm on April 1.

Akeroyd’s predecessor, Marco Gobbetti, sought to make Burberry more premium by reducing third-party distribution as well as discounts in order to sell its Olympia handbags and tartan scarves at full prices. Those sales continued to grow at double-digit percentage from two years ago.

Burberry said comparable stores sales in Asia Pacific were flat during the period compared to two years ago.

Learn more:

A Letter to Burberry’s New CEO

It is time for the British megabrand to again choose which way it’s really going: up or down?

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