Richemont plans new hirings to meet demand

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Swiss luxury products group Richemont, which reported a 79 percent rise in profits this week, plans to hire 2,000 more people to meet soaring demand, an executive said in an interview published Saturday.

Co-director Richard Lepeu told Swiss daily Le Temps he had 2.58 billion euros ($3.62 billion) to invest in production and distribution as delays in delivery of a multitude of products were building up .

"After recalculating, it seems we need between 850 and 900 more people this year" and a similar number in 2012, he said, "or about 1,900 over two years."

Richemont, which owns brands including Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc and Piaget, said Thursday that its full-year net profit soared 79 percent to 1.1 billion euros.

Overall sales were up 33 percent, with Asia-Pacific leading growth, the group said in a statement detailing earnings for the year ending March 31.

Revenues in Asia-Pacific were up 48 percent at 2.57 billion euros, fast catching up with Europe, the region which traditionally posts the biggest revenues in absolute numbers.

In Europe, sales reached 2.59 billion euros, up 23 percent from a year ago.

The group issued a positive outlook for the rest of 2011, saying that sales in April were 32 percent up from the same month last year.

"In an environment currently marked by geopolitical unrest and currency instability, we hope that this positive trend will be confirmed in the coming months," Richemont said.

Lepeu said the firm was "relatively confident" after the financial crisis but that it had left scars and he could not rule out further problems.

Concerning future acquisitions, Lepeu said Richemont was always ready to seize an opportunity, referring to its purchase of website last year.

© 2011 AFP

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