By Michelle Graff
Geneva--Richemont reported strong sales growth among its jewelry brands in the first half of the year, noting that jewelry now accounts for one-third of its total sales.

Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Giampiero Bodino posted an 18 percent year-over-year increase in sales to $3.42 billion in the period ended Sept. 30. Sales were strong at the company’s own boutiques, with both jewelry and Cartier and Van Cleef watches selling well. 

Richemont’s luxury watch brands, meanwhile, continued to struggle, hampered by declining demand in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sales for Richemont’s specialist watchmakers rose 8 percent to $1.88 billion in the first half of the year, with favorable exchange rate effects offsetting slower sales. Richemont owns Vacheron Constantin, Baume & Mercier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Söhne, Officine Panerai, IWC, Piaget and Roger Dubuis.

Total sales for the Geneva-based luxury goods conglomerate rose 15 percent year-over-year to $6.25 million, though that growth totaled only 3 percent at constant exchange rates (when factoring for currency fluctuations.) Profit grew 22 percent.

In a company statement issued Friday, Chairman Johann Rupert called the company’s first-half results “satisfactory” but predicted the rest of the year would be challenging. 

In the month of October, Richemont’s sales declined 1 percent at actual exchange rates and fell 6 percent at constant exchange rates. Jewelry continued to outperform watches, and Richemont continued to see more sales growth at its own boutiques than it does via its wholesale channel.

Rupert said for the second half of the year, the group expects the situation to remain “challenging,” particularly at wholesale.

“Our Maisons (brands) will continue to pursue their differentiated marketing strategies with their planned investments, increasing the ability for each to react to a volatile environment,” he said. 

Among its jewelry brands, the company also is dealing with a management transition just as the holiday season approaches. 

As reported Friday, Cartier CEO Stanislas Quercize has stepped down for personal reasons and will be replaced on Jan. 1 by Cyrille Vigneron. Vigneron now heads LVMH Japan but, before that, spent 25 years working at Richemont, primarily with Cartier. 

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