Hermes expects luxury to stay firmly in fashion

FRENCH luxury group Hermes’ sales in January to May rose slightly faster than the 18.5 per cent growth seen in the first quarter, chief executive Patrick Thomas said yesterday.

Still, this trend cannot be extrapolated over the full year as year-earlier comparative figures will be less flattering in the second half, he told the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Hermes posted the biggest surge in first-quarter sales of all European luxury goods companies last month, pointing to a continued polarisation of the market in which well-established brands crush weaker rivals.

The maker of crocodile handbags and silk scarves said sales in the three months to 31 March reached €507.7m (£418m), a 20.2 per cent increase at constant currencies.

The euro is “at a good price today”, Thomas said, adding that the weakening of the euro against major currencies would not impact sales development this year. Hermes is continuing to focus on organic growth, although Thomas did not rule out acquisitions.