Richemont gets boost from YNAP buy, fashion brands to boost sell-through and digital
Richemont may have missed analysts’ expectations with its full-year results, but it was clear on Friday that the company is far from an under-performer, even with a giant one-off gain taken out of the equation.
The Swiss group said the year to March saw net profit of €2.79bn ($3.12bn), up 128% on a gain of €1.38bn from the revaluation of shares in the Yoox-Net-A-Porter operation acquired last year. Excluding YNAP, the Watchfinder acquisition, and one-off charges, operating profit grew 5% to €1.943bn.
Sales rose 27% to €13.99bn but while the YNAP and Watchfinder buys added to its sales, they reduced profitability with the gross margin diluted to 61.8% from 65.2%, although it would have improved to 66.3% without their effects.
Sales excluding the acquisitions rose 8%, with growth in all business areas and most regions, and it called out double-digit increases in directly operated jewellery shops and specialist watchmakers’ shops.
As well as an 8% rise in directly operated retail sales to €7.32bn, the company saw a 7% wholesale increase to €4.368bn that “reflected successful watch launches and favourable comparatives.” But excluding one-off boosts, wholesale was only “moderately up on [the] prior year at constant exchange rates.”
Chairman Johann Rupert said the year under review was one of “transition and consolidation” and “in a relatively supportive environment,” it saw “growth across all business areas and distribution channels.”
Its jewellery and luxury watch brands were the stars last year, as usual, while its ‘other’ brands, “delivered varied performances”. All of those other labels saw higher sales, led by Montblanc and Peter Millar, while Chloé and Alfred Dunhill “increased sales with encouraging early results for the new Chloé leather offer and for Alfred Dunhill’s latest product offerings.”
But it said “challenges remain. The Fashion & Accessories Maisons’ focus is now on improving sell-through and cash flow, developing capabilities in leathergoods and increasing their digital reach.”
Jewellery and watches strength was aided by successful launches and existing lines, with Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC all strong during the year.
And the company said that “by shifting to a business model in which supply is matched to end-customer demand and sales are increasingly generated in monobrand stores, online or with fewer but stronger multi-brand retail partners, we are confident that our specialist watchmakers are laying a solid foundation for sound and sustainable growth.”
The company has worked hard on integrating the bought-in YNAP and Watchfinder ops (now known as its ‘online distributors’ division) and it said YNAP sales rose in double-digits. Online retail, at €2.262bn, now makes up 16% of the group’s total, including the online ops of its existing brands.
And on the back of the online expertise it now has in-house, it also said that it has “defined a multi-year integration roadmap with a view to developing robust omnichannel capabilities for our Maisons.” That includes the previously-announced Alibaba JV “to extend the in-season offerings of YNAP to Chinese consumers” for which “the discussions are progressing.”
Meanwhile, it said Watchfinder last year delivered “satisfactory performance, building on its leading position in the UK market.” And its internationalisation has begun, with an initial market entry in France.
Regionally, sales in Europe grew 37%, helped by YNAP and Watchfinder. The region accounted for 29% of group sales compared to 27% a year ago. But excluding online distributors, Europe sales rose only 1%, reflecting “further optimisation of the wholesale distribution network, the disposal of Lancel and social unrest in France, which led to temporary store closures.”
Sales were flat in the UK, progressed in Switzerland and, to a lesser extent, in France. Wholesale decreased moderately while retail sales grew in low-single-digits.
Sales in Asia Pacific, which accounted for 38% of group sales, saw 20% growth, or 14% with the online ops excluded. The retail channel was boosted by 20 new store openings and wholesale was strong too.
Sales in Japan rose by 16%, or 8% with YNAP et al factored out, benefiting from higher purchases by both domestic and tourist shoppers.
Americas Sales grew by 40%, again benefiting from the inclusion of YNAP, or up 11% with that excluded. All channels enjoyed growth, led by retail.
But the Middle East/Africa was weaker. Sales rose 8% but with online out of the equation, they fell 2%, although the effect was muted as this region only accounts for 7% of total group sales.
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