In the fourth quarter, Group sales rose by 5% versus the prior-year period notwithstanding strong comparatives and significant disruption to retail trading due to the massive Covid resurgence in mainland China.
Sales increases were recorded in all channels, and most regions and business areas. . Excluding the impact from Russia, Group sales rose by 7% at constant exchange rates.
Japan continued to lead growth with sales up by 43%, followed by Europe where sales grew by 19%. Japan saw both solid domestic sales and a gradual return of tourism supported by the lifting of Covid restrictions mid-October as well as a comparatively weaker yen. In Europe, sales growth was driven by continued strength in local and tourist demand, primarily from the US and the Middle East, underpinned by favourable exchange rates. France, Italy and Switzerland’s performances were particularly noteworthy. Sales in the Middle East & Africa region rose by 10%, also benefittig from the Qatar World Cup, which added inbound tourist purchases to sustained local demand. In the Americas, sales growth slowed somewhat to 3%, partly reflecting a greater share of purchases abroad due to the strong US dollar. Overall, sales to the American clientele remained solid, growing by high-single digits. In Asia Pacific, sales declined by 9% overall, as marked sales growth in South Korea and Southeast Asia, notably in Australia and Singapore, only partially mitigated lower sales in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. The massive increase of Covid cases negatively impacted customer traffic and, due to staff unavailability, led to a reduction of boutique opening hours or temporary closures of points of sale in mainland China, resulting in a sales drop of 24% during the period under review.
Against strong comparatives, all distribution channels recorded sales growth. The retail and online retail channels drove growth, with sales up by 6% each. Retail posted higher sales in all regions with the exception of Asia Pacific. Online retail increased its contribution to reach 7% of Group sales, in such a way that direct sales to consumers represented 76% of Group sales. Wholesale sales were 1% above the prior-year period, adversely impacted by trading in Asia Pacific.
The Group’s Jewellery Maisons sales grew by 8%, primarily driven by strong jewellery sales across Buccellati, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Watch sales increased, albeit at a softer pace. All channels and regions posted growth except for Asia Pacific. Specialist Watchmakers sales were 5% lower, reflecting double-digit declines in Asia Pacific which accounted for close to half of the Specialist Watchmakers’ sales, more than offsetting double-digit increases in Europe and Japan. Performance varied across Maisons, with an ongoing outperformance by A. Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin. The Group’s Other business area (primarily the Group’s Fashion & Accessories Maisons) delivered 6% sales growth, fuelled by higher sales across most Maisons, and in particular at Alaïa and Peter Millar. Most channels
January 26, 2023