Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods group, announces unaudited sales for the year ended 31 March 2004 of � 3 375 million.
In constant currency terms, sales for the year were in line with the prior period. At actual exchange rates, however, sales were some 8 per cent below the prior year, reflecting the strength of the euro, in particular against the US dollar and the yen, during the period.
Sales in the second half of the year were 6 per cent above the corresponding period in constant currency terms or 1 per cent lower at actual exchange rates. This improvement offset the downturn in sales reported for the first half of the financial year, which reflected the marked decline seen during the period from April to June 2003, when sales were very negatively impacted by the war in Iraq and the consequences of the SARS epidemic.
Whilst the improving economic climate has been a significant factor in the return of consumer confidence, new product launches by Richemont's Maisons have also been well received by customers.
The recovery seen during the quarter to December 2003 continued during the final quarter of the financial year, with growth at constant exchange rates of 4 per cent in the quarter to 31 December 2003 being complemented by an increase of 10 per cent in the three months ended 31 March 2004. In Europe, sales in the fourth quarter increased by 8 per cent. Sales in Japan fell by 2 per cent although the Asia-Pacific region continued to show good growth, reporting an increase of 18 per cent. Sales for the quarter in the Americas grew by 23 per cent at constant rates.
Retail sales amounted to � 1 392 million in the year, representing an increase of 2 per cent in constant currency terms and a decrease of 7 per cent at actual exchange rates. The modest increase in constant currency terms primarily reflected good growth in Asia-Pacific and the Americas, largely offset by weakness in Japan. European retail sales were broadly in line with the prior year.
Wholesale sales were in line with the prior year in constant currency terms, the shortfall in Europe offsetting growth in other regions. At actual exchange rates, total wholesale sales decreased by 8 per cent to � 1 983 million.
The preliminary announcement of the Group's audited results for the year ended 31 March 2004 will be released on 10 June 2004.
Richemont owns a portfolio of leading international brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc and Lancel as well as the prestigious watch manufacturers Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, IWC, Vacheron Constantin, A. Lange & Sohne and Officine Panerai.
In addition to its luxury goods business, Richemont holds a 19.6 per cent interest in the ordinary share capital of British American Tobacco.