Richemont’s luxury watch sales decline in first quarter

Worldwide
Published:  21 May, 2018

Despite posting encouraging results for the quarter ending March 31, 2018, mainly driven by sales growth in the jewellery category, the Switzerland based luxury holding has failed to meet market analysts’ expectations.

Overall, Richemont’s sales increased +3% at actual exchange rates and +8% at constant rates, mainly driven by the jewellery division, which includes the Cartier and Van Cleef houses; up +9% to €6.4 billion in the quarter.

However, revenues from watchmaking, including brands Jaeger-Le-Coultre, Piaget, IWC and Vacheron Constantin, contracted -6% to €2.7 billion. Richemont says the decline reflects “inventory control measures, including buy-backs, and distribution optimisation initiatives undertaken in the year under review”. The wholesale channel registered a double-digit decrease, with Europe, the Americas and Middle East and Africa particularly impacted.

Sales in the ‘Other’ category, which includes Montblanc, the Group’s Fashion & Accessories businesses, its watch component manufacturing and real estate activities, were said to be broadly in line with prior year (-1% to €1.81 million), with growth in Europe and Asia Pacific. The year is said to have been marked by “continued positive performances” at Montblanc and Peter Millar, whose collections include leather bags and shoes.

Referring to the results, Johann Rupert, Chairman, Richemont, said that “while Richemont’s unique portfolio of Maisons and other assets are well-positioned, our long-term approach does not preclude us from targeting strategic investments and divestments, as we have demonstrated over the past year. Our strong cash flow and balance sheet ensure we are equipped to realise the Group’s full potential over the next 30 years”. However, investors were unconvinced by the results and Richemont’s shares are reported to have declined -5.6% in the Zurich based SIX Swiss Exchange upon the announcement on May 18. Some analysts have attributed the fall to a ‘lack of clarity’ in objectives from Richemont.