By Michelle Graff
Watch and jewelry sales were down 26 percent for LVMH in the first quarter. One of the division’s major, and only, announcements was the launch of the latest version of the TAG Heuer smartwatch.
Paris—As expected, luxury conglomerate LVMH recorded a steep drop in sales in the first quarter as the coronavirus forced the closures of its stores and factories worldwide.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton reported Thursday that first-quarter revenue was down 15 percent year-over-year, and 17 percent on an organic basis (with comparable structure and exchange rates), to €10.6 billion ($11.52 billion).

The watches & jewelry and selective retailing divisions posted the steepest sales declines.

Watches & jewelry recorded a 26 percent year-over-year drop in organic revenue.

LVMH said Bulgari was particularly hard hit by the closure of its stores in Asia, while the reduction of orders from retailers affected TAG Heuer and Hublot after “a good start to the year.”

Organic revenue for selective retailing, which includes Sephora as well as duty-free shops in airports, also fell 26 percent.

Fashion & leather goods (sales down 10 percent) and wines & spirits (sales down 14 percent) proved to be LVMH’s most resilient divisions in the quarter, with alcohol sales particularly strong in the United States.

“The U.S. market demonstrated its good resilience over the period, supported by advance orders from distributors,” LVMH said of Wines & Spirits.

In the press release announcing the company’s Q1 results, Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault thanked the company’s teams worldwide, and noted the company’s pivot to making masks and hand sanitizer at some production facilities.

“For several weeks, our teams have once again demonstrated that excellence, creativity and responsiveness will allow us not only to overcome this crisis but, above all, to emerge even stronger when it fades,” he said.

Looking ahead, LVMH said the impact the closure of its factories and stores will have on its annual revenue cannot be determined right now because it does not know when it will be able to reopen.

The company said: “We can only hope that the recovery happens gradually [beginning in] May or June after a second quarter that will still be very affected by the crisis, in particular in Europe and the U.S.”

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