French luxury brand Hermes says set for record 2011 sales

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French luxury brand Hermes said on Friday it was on track for record sales this year amid "remarkable growth" in Asia and the Americas, as it announced an 18 percent rise in third-quarter sales.

"We are going to beat the 2.4 billion euros in sales of 2010," Hermes boss Patrick Thomas told AFP after the company released third-quarter results.

"Demand for our products continues to grow both in emerging and traditional markets," he said.

The company said third-quarter sales were up 18.2 percent at constant exchange rates to 683 million euros ($945 million). Sales for the first nine months of the year were up 20.2 percent to 1.99 billion euros.

"The remarkable growth trend in the Americas (30 percent) and in non-Japan Asia (32 percent) registered in the first half persisted in the third quarter," Hermes said in a statement.

"Owing to the high growth registered in the third quarter, the group has upgraded its annual sales target. Sales growth could be between 15 percent and 16 percent at constant exchange rates," it said.

Sales growth was registered across the group's range of products.

Sales of silk and textiles were up 27 percent, of leather goods up 13 percent, of fashion and accessories up 31 percent and of perfumes up 15 percent.

Thomas also confirmed that the descendants of founder Thierry Hermes, who collectively hold more than 73 percent of Hermes, would create by Christmas a holding company structure aimed at thwarting a potential takeover bid by luxury brand rival LVMH.

The holding "is being created.... It will be finished before Christmas," he said.

The move came after LVMH increased its stake in Hermes to more than 20 percent, raising fears of a takeover bid which under French rules can be blocked if a holding company controls more than 50 percent.

A French appeals court in September paved the way for its creation by ruling that the Hermes family did not have to buy up outstanding shares despite rules requiring any shareholder acquiring more than 33 percent of a listed company to offer to buy the other shares.

© 2011 AFP

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