Paris — Luxury handbag maker Hermès International expects first-half operating profits close to the record level reached last year, as it posted solid second-quarter sales that augured well for the rest of the luxury sector. Hermès’s strong sales increase in China shows demand for luxury goods in that country has remained resilient despite slower economic growth, and in spite of the current trade war between China and the US. Hermès, whose Birkin handbags are worth more than a small car, said sales rose 7.2% to €1.46bn for the three months to the end June. Sales rose 12% at constant exchange rates, up from 11% during the previous quarter. Analysts expected a 10% increase. The company said adverse currency swings represented a negative effect of €165m on its top line. Sales in China kept on growing at a double-digit rate as in the past years, CEO Axel Dumas told reporters. Demand in China had not been affected by macro-economic uncertainties, he said, adding that the current trade wa...

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