Cartier's Juste un Clou bracelets
Luxury conglomerate Richemont said sales rose 2 per cent in the year ending March 31, 2020, with its jewellery and online business contributing to the growth amid a crisis-stricken environment.
According to the group, jewellery revenues were up 2 per cent year on year on the back of solid retail sales. Online business was strong too, driven in part by the opening of Cartier’s new flagship store on online retail platform TMall’s Luxury Pavilion in January 2020.
Richemont owns jewellery maisons Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Buccellati.
“A notable acceleration of online sales partially mitigated a halt in tourism and store closures,” noted Richemont Chairman Johann Rupert. “Online sales reached 19 per cent of group sales at year end, compared to 16 per cent a year ago, reflecting our continued focus on expanding our capabilities in an increasingly digital world.”
Sales growth in the US, Europe and Japan also more than offset a contraction in Asia Pacific.
Richemont however reported a 67 per cent fall in annual profit, with Rupert warning of “grave economic consequences” over the next two to three years with the coronavirus pandemic heavily impacting consumer sentiment and tourism.
Despite signs of recovery in China’s luxury sector, “there is very limited visibility as to what the year ahead holds,” he continued. With no clear indication of when economic activity will normalise, other countries may find it difficult to follow China. “We may be looking at 12, 24 or 36 months of grave economic consequences. Perhaps that is too pessimistic but who knows,” he noted.
Richemont’s business meanwhile seems to be faring well in China, with demand picking up after the reopening of its 462 boutiques.
On the digital front, the group’s joint venture with Alibaba and its online “Pavilions” introduced Cartier and its jewellery brands to a new generation of shoppers, who start out online and eventually become good customers in physical stores.
“In times when tourist traffic is impacted by concerns over the virus, internet shopping has proven to be a key avenue and will remain key to the growth of our business,” noted Rupert.