L’Oreal, Kering boosted by pick-up in Chinese demand

Top French luxury goods companies L’Oreal and Kering reported strong third quarters as a rebound in demand in their key Chinese markets helped offset the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal said its three months to September sales were down only 2.0 percent at 7.04 billion euros and on a directly comparable basis actually showed a gain of 1.6 percent.

For the nine months to September, sales were up 8.6 percent from the same period last year at 20.11 billion euros as the company benefited from the rebound in China, where the virus first appeared late last year and was only brought under control by a massive lockdown which hit the economy hard.

Since then the Chinese government has steadily removed restrictions to the point where it reports only very few cases and life has returned more or less to a cautious normality.

China on its own showed a sales increase of 18.1 percent in the nine months while the broader Asia-Pacific was down just 1.9 percent.

L’Oreal made no forecasts for the full year but said it expected a positive second half, with sales growing on a like-for-like basis, helped by soaring online demand — up more than 61 percent for the nine months and now accounting for nearly 24 percent of its business.

Separately, Kering said it too benefited from Asia’s recovery, with better-than-expected third quarter sales of 3.7 billion euros showing a relatively modest fall of 4.3 percent.

In its second quarter, sales plunged 43 percent.

For the nine months period, sales were down 21.1 percent at 9.1 billion euros, it said.

“The group is almost back at 2019 levels… a remarkable (performance) in the current context,” Kering finance chief Jean-Marc Duplaix said.

Duplaix said the North American markets had also performed very strongly, helped by government support for the economy.

Kering is home to top fashion brands Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga. (AFP)

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