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Paris — Thriving demand in China boosted sales at Birkin bag marker Hermes in the first quarter, underscoring an upbeat start to the year for some of the luxury sector’s biggest names. From fashion labels to jewellers, many companies in the industry have reported better than expected sales at the start of the year, with strong demand from Asian and US shoppers. That has helped offset a slowdown in tourist spending in Europe, while luxury consumers have so far shrugged off trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. Hermes, known for its $10,000-plus hand-stitched Birkin and Kelly bags, said revenue in the first quarter rose 11% in constant currencies from a year ago — an uptick from the previous three months and more than analysts had forecast. "The performance of our first quarter is probably beyond our annual objective," CEO Axel Dumas told journalists. "This was a strong start." Dumas said the drag from currency fluctuations, which hit sales by €104m in the quarter, should eas...

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