Sales grew at an exceptional rate of 22.6 percent for Hermès International in 2012, reaching a record level of €3,484.1 million for the year. On a currency-neutral basis, they were up by only 16.4 percent, down from the 18.3 percent growth rate registered in the previous year, but it was sufficient to take the operating margin above the already high level of 31.2 percent attained in 2011.

More precise financial results will be reported later on, but its seems that Hermès performed better than many other luxury goods companies, particularly in the fourth quarter of 2012. Its sales rose by 18.3 percent in the period on a constant-currency basis, marking an accelleration as compared to the 15.5 percent increase obtained in the first nine months of last year. Comparatively, LVMH, which owns 22 percent of Hermès, reported last month an increase of only 5 percent on an organic basis for its fashion and leathergoods division, in spite of continued double-digit growth at Louis Vuitton (see the previous article).

The shoe -related segments enjoyed the highest increases last year at Hermès. At constant exchange rates, sales went up in the fourth quarter by 25.5 percent in the ready-to-wear and fashion accessories sector, which includes Hermès branded footwear. An even higher 32.2 percent increase was scored in the “other” category, which includes John Lobb.

For the full financial year, ready-to-wear and fashion accessories generated a 22.3 percent sales increase on a constant-currency basis and a 29.5 percent increase in euros, up to €745.6 million. In the “other” segment, sales went up by 52.1 percent in euros to €165.2 million, with a 45.0 percent increase in local currencies.

Geographically, sales of all products increased by 6.8 percent in Japan and by 25.4 percent in the rest of Asia during the fourth quarter, thanks in part to the opening of two new stores in China and Taiwan and the renovation or expansion of six others in the region. Impressive sales increases of 15 and 14 percent were recorded in Europe and the U.S., respectively. Specifically, currency-neutral sales went up by 12.2 percent in France and by 16.6 percent in the rest of Europe. Sales to travellers continued to trend up sharply throughout the world.

Sales at Hermès' own stores rose by 23 percent in euros and by 16 percent in local currencies in the course of last year. The company opened two new stores in 2012 and renovated twelve others.