When LVMH announced on October 10 that revenue grew only 9 percent like-for-like in the third quarter of 2023 — compared to 17 percent in the second quarter — investors were quick to raise their concerns over slowing luxury demand. “An end to the roaring 20s,” Berenberg analysts said as they cut their forecast for the conglomerate.
Since then, more luxury players have posted their financial results. While Ferragamo recorded falling revenue in all but one region in the nine months to October 1, luxury fashion rival Brunello Cucinelli celebrated double-digit growth across all its regions, bucking the deceleration trend.
Clearly, not every luxury company is missing sales expectations. Still, each one will have to grapple with the challenge of maintaining growth now that the market is normalizing. More on this below.
Entering a ‘New Renaissance,’ Ferragamo faces an ongoing sales slump
Reduced international travel and a slowdown in the US market has put Ferragamo in a pinch. In the nine months to October 1, the Italian luxury group reported sales declined 8.3 percent year on year to $892.5 million (€844 million) at constant exchange rates. The announcement led to a 5 percent share price drop in morning trading on October 20.
Although Europe still generated growth of 3.1 percent during the period, all other markets recorded negative net sales, with North America tumbling 18.2 percent and the Asia Pacific falling by 11.7 percent from last year.
That said, the business is in the midst of a “transition to the new creative course, the full potential of which will become evident in 2024,” CEO Marco Gobbetti said in a statement. Under creative director Maximillian Davis, the company has started revamping its image and rolling out fresh products, including launching holiday capsule collections and pop-ups for China.
It’s starting to resonate too, as the eponymous brand entered Lyst Index’s ranking of hottest brands for the first time in Q3 2023 following the release of its “New Renaissance” campaign. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time before the numbers catch up; after all, a renaissance doesn’t happen overnight.
Brunello Cucinelli wins in China with ‘silent’ styles
Italian luxury fashion group Brunello Cucinelli said it was “extremely satisfied” with how it performed in the first nine months of 2023. Revenue rose 27.5 percent at constant exchange rates to $865 million (€818.4 million) compared to the same period in 2022.
While all region posted positive growth, Asia performed especially well, with sales jumping 49.7 percent YoY to $243.2 million (€218.6 million), representing 26.7 percent of the company’s total sales. In particular, the Chinese market drove almost half of total business in the region.
“We are convinced that the Chinese customer increasingly appreciates the purely ‘silent’ taste of our collections, rewarding their exclusiveness and positioning at the very top end of the market, with a particular focus on clothing,” stated the company best known for $2,000 cashmere sweaters.
Co-chief executive officer Luca Lisandroni also expressed his excitement about the Greater Bay Area, which includes Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, for their investment in luxury retail and concentration of wealth. The apparel name plans to open a new store at the Four Seasons hotel in Macau in 2024.
Given these results, Brunello Cucinelli has raised its full-year sales growth forecast to 20 percent to 22 percent, up from the previous estimate of 17 percent to 19 percent. This positive trajectory should continue into 2024 based on the “excellent sellout rate” of the brand’s Fall/Winter 2023 season, which arrived at Beijing SKP via a pop-up on October 21, and the strong order intake of its Spring/Summer 2024 collection.
L’Oréal dented by China’s ‘daigou’ crackdown
In the three months to October 1, the parent company of Maybelline and Lancome reported an 11.1 percent YoY rise in sales at constant exchange rates, just missing analysts’ expectations of an 11.5 percent increase. In the nine months to October 1, revenue was up 12.6 percent to $32.3 billion (€30.57 billion).
North Asia grew just 1.3 percent YoY from January to the end of September, impacted by the crackdown on daigou, or personal sellers, in Hainan province and South Korea. “The market has very significantly reduced its sellout,” said L’Oréal Group CEO Nicolas Hieronimus on a call with investors.
A bright spot: L’Oréal Luxe continued to outperform in the North Asia region with 33 percent market share, driven by premium skincare brands Helena Rubinstein and Takami, along with the launch of Prada Beauty in China this August.
However, unlike Brunello Cucinelli’s Lisandroni, who only had good things to say after his visit to China a month ago, Hieronimus said he “was not super impressed” by the market as it has been slow to recover.
“It’s flattish after nine months, but L’Oréal continues to really outperform. We have a 10-point gap with the market, we’re gaining share in all divisions, and that’s really the result of great online activity and good offline comeback, where consumers are still a bit shy in their spending,” he said.
Although it’s too soon to say whether the upcoming Double 11 shopping festival will help bolster the beauty giant’s performance in North Asia, Hieronimus is hopeful that L’Oréal Group will outperform like it usually does.