Hermes strikes gold with record profitability


Paris (AFP)

French luxury goods maker Hermes on Wednesday posted record profitability for 2017 thanks to strong in-store and online demand worldwide.

The company, best known for its silk scarves and Birkin handbags named after the British actress and singer Jane Birkin, saw profits rise across Asia, the Americas and Europe, it said in a statement.

"Hermes achieved a new year of historic results," said chief executive Axel Dumas.

The group's bags and leather goods performed best with sales growth of 10 percent, while sales of its signature silk scarves grew six percent.

Hermes said that overall group revenues rose by seven percent to 5.5 million euros ($6.8 million) in 2017.

Net profit grew by 11 percent to 1.2 billion euros and underlying or operating profit advanced by 13 percent to 1.9 billion euros.

That pushed the operating margin, a key profitability yardstick, up by two percentage points to 34.6 percent.

Unlike many high street fashion brands, which are suffering from what analysts dub the "retail apocalypse" as online giants take over, Hermes saw its in-store client base grow almost worldwide.

"The significant rise in revenues recorded in 2017 in group stores was driven by growth in all the geographical areas," the statement said.

Stores were either opened, renovated or extended in cities around the world including London, Copenhagen, Taiwan, Toronto and Sao Paolo.

The brand's new website was launched in the United States and Canada, with Europe and China to follow this year.

Hermes meanwhile announced it would pay a special dividend of five euros a share, on top of its 4.10 euro annual payment, to give shareholders a share of the group's "sizeable" cash pile.