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Surprise Ending: Prada, Hermès See Sales Surge in 4th Quarter

The luxury numbers are starting to roll in and they’re rosier than expected, as Prada and Hermès reported strong fourth-quarter sales gains Thursday.

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Hermès continued strong in Japan, where sales gained 17 percent despite difficult market conditions. A 4 percent gain in the U.S. reversed a 5 percent decline last year. In the rest of Asia, sales suffered from soft airport sales. Even with an 18 percent retail advance in the rest of Asia, overall sales growth was limited to 3 percent.

Overall sales inched up 1 percent in Europe, but within Hermes’ own retail network in the region the advance was 5 percent. Hermès added three stores in Europe last year: Nuremberg, Germany; Naples, Italy, and Aix-en-Provence, France. Three other stores were expanded and revamped.

By category, leather goods sales increased 16 percent for the year; silk products, a travel retail staple, declined 12 percent, and ready-to-wear, perfumes and watches registered declines between 3 and 5 percent, the company said.

Hermès said it would continue to invest in production facilities over the next year — in particular, by enlarging two of its leather goods factories in France — but had a cautious stance for the year and gave no earnings guidance. "Projections are not easy to make in the prevailing climate of political uncertainty," the company’s statement said.

Hermès earnings are slated to come out March 20.
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