A man looks at a Montblanc watch, made by Switzerland-based luxury goods holding company Richemont. Picture: AFP
A man looks at a Montblanc watch, made by Switzerland-based luxury goods holding company Richemont. Picture: AFP

Asia was again the main driver of sales growth at Richemont, the world’s second-biggest luxury goods group said in a trading update on Wednesday, ahead of its AGM.

Sales at the group, whose brands include Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Van Cleef & Arpels and Piaget, for the five months to end-August rose 12% from a year earlier at constant exchange rates and 10% at actual exchange rates, it said.

Stripping out inventory buy-backs in the year-earlier period, sales were up 7%.

Asian growth was still far ahead of any other region: sales in Asia excluding Japan rose 23% in constant currencies and 22% in actual currencies, and Japanese sales were up 11% and 6% respectively. For the year to end-March, Asian sales grew 37%.

The Americas posted growth of 9%, on both bases — slower than the 17% growth reported for the full year; European growth was 3% on both bases; and in the Middle East and Africa it was 2% in constant currencies and 1% in actual currencies.

Richemont posted a decline in full-year operating profit in May, and chairman Johann Rupert was less forthcoming than investors had hoped with proposals to reinvigorate the company, telling them at the results presentation, "Either you trust us or you sell your shares."

The company’s watch division has been the main source of discomfort, hit hard by China’s anti-graft measures introduced in 2012 that included a ban on luxury gifts.

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