Luxury conglomerate Richemont (CFR.S), whose shares fell 6% after the owner of Cartier jewelry announced first-half profits that fell short of expectations, issued a warning on Friday about the impact of global tensions and economic concerns on consumer spending.
The Swiss business, which also owns several upscale Swiss watch brands, including Vacheron Constantin and IWC, is the most recent luxury expert to announce a downturn in recent months as the post-pandemic frenzy wanes.
Last month, French competitor LVMH (LVMH.PA) revealed a downturn in the market for luxury products in Europe and the US, where growing costs have forced consumers—particularly younger ones—to reduce their spending.
According to Bernstein analyst Luca Solca, Richemont announced on Friday that it would join the “moderation club.” The company reported a continuous increase in currency sales, which would slow to 5% from July to September.
Sales between April and June had grown by 19%. The chairman of Richemont, Johann Rupert, stated that while the full impact of higher interest rates was not to be seen, geopolitical uncertainties, inflation, and slower economic development were all lowering sentiment.
Rupert told reporters, alluding to increasing interest rates, “We don’t think it’s surprising that the market will slow down across all asset classes.” A housing crisis and record young unemployment have dampened the mood in China, and the post-COVID feel-good factor has also faded.
Rupert stated, “They’re not going out to bust their credit cards,” about the Chinese clientele, who account for 30% of Richemont’s revenue. “There is a bit of caution on their side.”
Nevertheless, Rupert said Richemont had enough cash to keep funding its marketing, boutiques, and merchandise. This allowed the company to weather the downturn.
“I have a fairly optimistic prognosis for the medium future. Since I’ve been associated with Cartier since 1976, I can assure you that I’ve witnessed many highs and lows,” he remarked.
Thus, I have no concerns about the ensuing three to five years. We can support ourselves; therefore, we will take advantage of the chance to increase our market share.”
Richemont’s revenues increased by 6% to 10.22 billion euros ($10.9 billion) in the six months ending at the end of September, falling short of the 10.34 billion euros experts had predicted. The company’s profit of 1.51 billion euros also fell short of the 2.17 billion euros expected by analysts in a consensus that Zuercher Kantonalbank quoted.
Analyst Jon Cox of Kepler Cheuvreux said that although the company’s sales and earnings fell short of forecasts, it performed better than expected in the US and jewelry sales. The outlook for a soft landing and prospects for revival in China were “remarkably decent.”