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Louis Vuitton sales slow down in Europe

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PostPosted: 13    Post subject: Louis Vuitton sales slow down in Europe

Louis Vuitton sales slow down in Europe
By Astrid Wendlandt
PARIS (Reuters) Louis Vuitton sales in Europe have been hit by a drop in demand, particularly from Asian tourists, while China has been sluggish with no sign of improvement, its parent LVMH said on Tuesday.
"At this point in time, we miss demand from the Asian part of the world," LVMH Chief Financial Officer JeanJacques Guiony said about Louis Vuitton's performance in a conference call with analysts and investors on LVMH's firstquarter sales.
LVMH on Monday had reported the lowest quarterly sales growth since 2009 at its fashion and leather division, dominated by Louis Vuitton, the world's biggest luxury brand by sales.
The French company's caution about China and Asia in general fits with the experience of other luxury goods companies such as Richemont that have pointed to a slowdown in the Asian market,[url=]tiger shoes[/url], a big growth driver for sales.
LVMH, the world's No.1 luxury goods group, said demand in China in the past 910 months had been "flattish," due to a weakening in economic growth and a government crackdown on gifts for favours. Price increases in Europe made shopping in Paris and Milan less attractive for tourists from Asia.
If, on average, Louis Vuitton prices were about 45 percent higher in Beijing than in Paris, with recent price increases in Europe, the difference was now about 30 percent, Guiony said.
"It is less interesting to go outside China than it used to be," he said of Chinese tourists shopping in Europe.
"Also, (China's) economic growth is not what is used to be . And the change in leadership has had some consequences in terms of gifting," Guiony said.
He said traffic was down in most shopping malls in China.
Guiony said the yen's weakness discouraged the Japanese from spending money abroad but had boosted sales domestically. He estimated that Japanese travellers overall spent 40 percent less on Louis Vuitton products in the first quarter than during the same period last year.
Guiony said investors could not expect improvements in margins at the group's fashion and leather division as advertising and other costs would continue to weigh on results.
"According to Guiony's comments, sounds like luxury goods demand in Europe and China will not improve in the next quarter," said Londonbased Bernstein analyst Mario Ortelli.
LVMH shares, which were down nearly 3 percent before the group's conference call, closed almost 4 percent lower, pulling down other luxury stocks such as PPR , Richemont and Swatch .
LVMH, which also owns Hennessy cognac and champagne brand Moet Chandon, reported a revenue rise of 3 percent at its fashion and leather unit in the first quarter, below the 5 percent expected on average by analysts.
Some analysts estimated this implied growth of about 23 percent for the Louis Vuitton brand, whose more than 7 billion euros (6 billion pounds) in annual revenue, makes up more than 70 percent of the division's turnover and yields the bulk of group profits.
But Guiony said the brand's growth was "not materially different" than the average for the division.
LVMH's total likeforlike sales growth in Europe in the first quarter was zero while it was 7 percent in the United States, excluding Hawaii, 12 percent in Japan and 12 percent in Asia, excluding Japan.
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