No COVID-19 blues for Hermes as sales soar

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 23 2021 09:06 AM

An Hermes staff member enters "The Texture of Time" presentation at the Watches & Wonders trade fair in Geneva, Switzerland, April 6, 2021. Denis Balibouse, Reuters/File

PARIS - French luxury goods group Hermes said Thursday that its sales jumped 38 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with 2020, bolstered by a strong performance in Asia.

The maker of Birkin handbags said its revenues reached 2.1 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in January-March, which was higher than even the same period in 2019, before the global Covid-19 pandemic struck.

The sharp rise was driven mainly by increased demand for the group's bags, clothing and watches in China and other Asian markets, with consumers turning to online shopping despite the hefty Hermes price tags.

"The success of online sales has been confirmed," finance director Eric du Halgouet told reporters by phone, adding that internet sales had seen "growth in three figures across all regions."

Sales in the United States climbed 23 percent from a year earlier, but they stagnated in Europe, where many major economies, including France, remain locked down.

Fellow French luxury group Kering, which owns brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, announced Tuesday that its sales had also risen to a level higher than the same period of 2019, underlining how coronavirus-hit 2020 was a blip for the high-end luxury market.

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