Hermes trumpets strong sales in fighting LVMH 'intrusion'
French luxury brand Hermes turned out sparkling results on Tuesday in the middle of a fight to repel unwelcome investors with takeover talk and legal issues in the air.
Hermes "is on the way to probably the best year in at least 10 years and perhaps in all its history," Hermes executive Patrick Thomas said, announcing third-quarter sales growth of 31 percent.
Sales for the first nine months of 2010 amounted to 1.665 billion euros (2.316 billion dollars), up 19 percent in Europe, 23 percent in the Americas and 41 percent in Asia excluding Japan, where sales dipped one percent.
"Based on the strong growth achieved in the third quarter, sales growth target for the year could be around 15 percent at constant exchange rates," the company said in a statement.
"Hermes will continue to follow its long-term strategy of maintaining control over its know-how and distribution network," the company said.
The head of luxury giant LVMH, Bernard Arnault, said last month he had bought 17 percent of Hermes, insisting the move did not herald a hostile takeover but that he simply wanted to be a "friendly" long-term shareholder.
Thomas has suggested that if Arnault wanted to be friendly, he should withdraw, alleging Arnault's tactics in taking the stake were questionable and said they hoped the financial services watchdog would investigate.
The head of France's financial markets authority (AMF) Jean-Pierre Jouyet said on Friday the body would open a probe "into the conditions under which this entry (into Hermes' capital) was done."
LVMH swiftly welcomed Jouyet's announcement, saying it would prove that its acquisition of a slice of Hermes' capital was within the rules.
© 2010 AFP