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Cartier owner Richemont sees sales fall in slump

RICHEMONT, the luxury goods group behind Cartier jewellery and Chloe handbags, struck a cautious note about future demand yesterday amid signs the rate of decline in its sales was slowing.<br /><br />Demand between April and August for Richemont&rsquo;s goods, which include watches from prestigious brands like IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc pens and Lancel accessories, slipped 16 per cent at actual exchange rates and 21 per cent in constant exchange rates.<br /><br />Analysts had expected sales to fall 15 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively, according to a poll.<br /><br />Richemont, which is the world&rsquo;s second largest luxury goods group behind LVMH, said profitability would be lower in the first six months of the year than in the six months to September last year, despite cost-control measures.<br /><br />Cartier, Richemont&rsquo;s biggest brand, said earlier this month the worst of the crisis was probably behind it as strong demand in China and the Middle East offsets weakness in Japan and the US.<br /><br />&ldquo;We would prefer to wait until we have more evidence of a broader economic recovery before speculating on the likelihood of a better second half,&rdquo; chairman Johann Rupert, whose family controls the group, said.