Kering continues to run at a fast pace, outperforming the two other major French luxury groups and leading observers to wonder how the company will use its huge cash pile for other acquisitions, most likely in the luxury goods sector after divesting Puma and all the other components of its former lower-margin sports business. It has just sold Volcom to its management and to the Authentic Brands Group (more on this in Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe).
Performing overall slightly better than expected, Kering posted a 21.9 percent increase in revenues to €3.78 billion for the first quarter of this year. On a comparable basis, excluding the effect of currencies and divestitures, sales went up by 17.5 percent, with shoes and clothing generally faring better than handbags in Europe and the U.S., according to the management. Retail and wholesale revenues went up by 19 and 12 percent, respectively.
As expected, the group's main brand, Gucci, slowed down its growth with a more “normalized” increase of 24.6 percent to €2.33 billion, after doubling its turnover over the past four years. Investors reacted by lowering Kering's share price by 4 percent. On a comparable basis, Gucci rose by 20.0 percent, but while its sales in Asia-Pacific jumped by 35 percent, those in North America went up by only 5 percent.
On a comparable basis, Yves Saint Laurent grew by 17.5 percent, reaching €497.5 million. Bottega Veneta declined by 8.9 percent, down to €248.1 million, but the management expressed optimism for the brand.
With revenues of €576 million, “Other houses” pulled a sales increase of 21.7 percent on a comparable basis, led by Balenciaga, which has described as Kering's fastest-growing brand for ready-to-wear and leathergoods.
Across the group, the biggest growth was experienced in the Asia-Pacific region. The management said it saw no signs of a slowdown in Chinese spending, although it is now taking place more at home than abroad.