Soaring inflation and pandemic have failed to affect luxury brands, from Louis Vuitton to Gucci and Cartier, as the sector hiked prices to notch up stellar profits. Last year, the world economy began to recover from the pandemic but rising inflation has accompanied the rebound. Prices for raw materials and energy are soaring
But luxury good makers can respond by hiking their prices and actually look more desirable to their customers.
“Our advantage over many other companies and groups is a certain price flexibility, i.e. we have the means to react to inflation,” LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault told reporters.
UBS analysts estimate that top brands such as Louis Vuitton, which is owned by industry leader LVMH, have raised their prices two-and-a-half times higher than the inflation rate over the past 20 years.
Indeed, “pricing power remains one of the key characteristics of the luxury goods industry,” UBS analysts wrote in a research note.
LVMH bagged a record 64 billion euros ($72 billion) in sales and 12 billion euros in net profit last year, both exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
The French company also owns a broad range of spirits, perfume, jewellery and cosmetics products.
‘Less susceptible’ to rising costs
Kering — which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent — also beat its pre-Covid levels to book a net profit of 3.2 billion euros on sales of 17.6 billion euros, the group reported on Thursday.
Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault acknowledged that “for every new season, we create a new collection and we review all the price matrices.”
Hermes chalked up profits of 2.4 billion euros on sales of nine billion euros.
Hermes chief Axel Dumas said that his brand, which is enjoying “very strong demand”, raises its prices once a year.
“All of our products have the same margins. We don’t play with our prices. They’re linked to manufacturing costs and not to desirability.”
He argued that the craftsmanship that goes into making Hermes bags means that they are “perhaps less susceptible to rising energy and raw materials prices than others”.
Swiss group Richemont, which owns Cartier and runs its business year from April to March, said it booked sales of 5.6 billion euros in the third quarter alone, an increase of 38 percent over the corresponding period of 2019.
(With inputs from agencies)