French luxury goods group Hermes reported first-half sales up 21.9 percent from the same period a year earlier to 1.59 billion euros ($1.95 billion), and maintained its 2012 growth outlook Thursday.
When adjusted for foreign exchange variations, the increase was 15.4 percent, its statement added.
In the second quarter, sales were 21.9 percent higher on a 12-month basis at 814.5 million euros, whereas analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a gain of 18 percent to 788.5 million euros.
Hermes said it was on track to post a 10-percent rise in sales for the full year at constant exchange rates, and added that "the underlying operating margin is expected to be between 2010 and the all-time high achieved in 2011."
That figure was 31.2 percent of sales, the highest since shares in the company were listed on the stock exchange in 1993.
Hermes was created in 1837 and is still family controlled, although the LVMH group owns 22.28 percent of its capital.
"It is difficult to make projections for the full year 2012 owing to uncertainties over the economic outlook and currency fluctuations," the company noted.
In the first six months of the year, all regions posted sales growth, with Asian sales excluding Japan gaining 25 percent at constant exchange rates.
European sales excluding France increased by 21 percent, in part owing to Asian clients who bought the group's leather goods, handbags, silk scarves, gloves, hats, shoes and jewellery while travelling.
French sales were 10 percent stronger, while those in the Americas gained nine percent from what Hermes said was an "exceptionally high basis of comparison in 2011," when they gained 34 percent.
All sectors of activity posted gains of at least 10 percent: leatherwork and saddlery rose 10 percent, perfumes gained 12.7 percent, silk and textiles were up 14.6 percent, clothes by 21.1 percent and watches gained 22.8 percent.
The group's "other products" category, which includes jewellery and high-end household goods reported a sales increase of 49.9 percent.
Source: AFP Global Edition