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Sales at Hermes soar 26%

French luxury goods group Hermes saw sales surge by 26% during the first quarter of 2011 fuelled by strong growth across all divisions.

Revenues totalled €637.1m (£559.8m) in the three months to March 31 with sales at the group’s own stores growing by 20% at constant exchange rates. Wholesale revenues grew by 23% due to high demand in the watch and perfume segments.

All regions other than Japan, which was affected by the earthquake and tsunami in March, delivered “high growth”.European sales grew by 21.6% to €226.2m (£198.8m).

Hermes said its ready-to-wear and fashion accessories division increased by 25.5% to €129.4m (£113.7m). The leather goods division also performed well with a 22.2% rise to €302.9m (£266.2m). Silk and textiles saw the largest growth, up 30.3% to €78.6m (£69.1m).

Hermes has owned a stake in fashion house Jean-Paul Gaultier since 1999 but, last October, Gaultier stepped down as director of women’s ready-to-wear at Hermes after presenting its spring 11 collection.

In early May, the company sold its 45% stake to Puig, the Spanish parent company of beauty brands Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne. The €16m (£14.1m) proceeds of the sale combined with €14m (£12.3m) repayment of loans to the company will generate around €30m (£26.4m) accounting profits in 2011.

The company is reluctant to forecast its full year expectations due to geopolitica and economic uncertainties, and trends in the Japanese market.

Hermes plans to open ten new stores in 2011 as it continues to expand its distribution network.

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