January 25, 2018 / 5:02 PM / 25 days ago

Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH upbeat as Chinese shoppers lift sales

PARIS (Reuters) - Louis Vuitton owner LVMH (LVMH.PA), the world’s biggest luxury goods maker, delivered better-than-expected sales growth in the fourth quarter as it benefited like many peers from a steady recovery in Asian demand.

The French company, whose 70 brands range from Dom Perignon champagne to fashion houses like Fendi and Givenchy, said sales rose 11 percent between October and December on a like-for-like basis, which strips out currency swings.

That beat the 9 percent growth expected in an Inquiry Financial analyst poll for Reuters but was a slight slowdown from 12 percent growth the previous quarter.

Demand from Asian shoppers has boosted makers of high-end handbags, clothing and watches the past year, thanks in particular to thriving Chinese demand.

Rival Richemont (CFR.S), which owns Cartier, reported solid appetite from the region in the last three months of 2017.

Keeping up revenue growth may become harder, however, against tougher year ago comparisons.

    LVMH described the backdrop as supportive for the industry, adding it was well-equipped to grow further in 2018 “despite unfavourable currencies and geopolitical uncertainties.”

    LVMH, which does not break out earnings for its labels, said group operating income for the whole of 2017 stood at 8.29 billion euros (£7.3 billion), up 18 percent from a year earlier and in line with forecasts.

    The conglomerate was partly boosted by the full integration of the Christian Dior fashion label. LVMH swooped last year on the couture part of the brand it did not already own, uniting it with the perfume and beauty parts of the Dior business.

    Its fashion and leather goods division - motored by Louis Vuitton, which accounts for more than half of the whole group’s profits - posted revenues of 15.5 billion euros in 2017, up 13 percent like-for-like.

    Reporting by Sarah White and Pascale Denis, Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Elaine Hardcastle

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