By Michelle Graff
michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com
The newest version of the Connected smartwatch from LVMH-owned watch brand TAG Heuer. The luxury giant saw jewelry and watch sales fall 38 percent in the first half of the year, with overall sales down 27 percent.
Paris—To paraphrase Dennis Green, the numbers are what we thought they would be.

On Monday, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury behemoth that owns brands like Bulgari and TAG Heuer, reported a 38 percent year-over-year decline (39 percent with comparable structure and exchange rates) in sales for its Watches & Jewelry division in the first half of 2020.

Sales totaled €1.32 billion ($1.55 billion), down from €2.14 billion ($2.51 billion) in the same period last year.

Like so many companies, LVMH was forced to shutter its stores and manufacturing facilities for several months due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19.

The company said Monday that in Q2, Bulgari experienced a rebound in the Chinese market as stores there reopened for business. 

The iconic Italian brand introduced B.Zero1 Rock collection in February and a new high jewelry collection, this one called Barocko, in June using augmented reality.

Watch brands TAG Heuer and Hublot, meanwhile, felt the impact of the pandemic on third-party retailers, with orders declining.

The new TAG Heuer smartwatch, however, launched at an event in New York right before COVID-19 forced the city to shut down, has “been a great success,” LVMH said.

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Total sales for LVMH, which also owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and champagne brand Moët, declined 27 percent (28 percent with comparable structure and exchange rates) year-over-year to €18.39 billion ($21.61 billion).

Profit from recurring operations sunk 68 percent to €1.67 billion ($1.96 billion). The company said its most profitable brands were Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Moët Hennessy’s stable of wines and liquors.

In a news release announcing first-half results, LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault noted the company has seen “an upturn in activity” since June, though the start of the recovery has been uneven.

LVMH’s Q2 revenue fell 38 percent, with a strong rebound in China but sales “notably down” in Europe and the United States, which is battling widespread outbreaks in multiple states and leads the world in both the number of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths.

“We remain very vigilant for the rest of the year,” Arnault remarked. “We continue to be driven by a long-term vision, a deep sense of responsibility and a strong commitment to environmental protection, inclusion and solidarity.

“Thanks to the strength of our brands and the responsiveness of our organization, we are confident that LVMH is in an excellent position to take advantage of the recovery, which we hope will be confirmed in the second half of the year.”

LVMH did not provide financial guidance for the rest of the fiscal year, stating only that it will focus on controlling costs and “being selective in its investments.”

“The impact of the epidemic on revenue and annual results cannot be precisely assessed at this stage without knowing the timetable for the return to normal business in the different areas where the group operates,” it said.

Regarding its planned acquisition of Tiffany & Co., LVMH provided a one-line update, noting that the closing date will depend on it receiving final regulatory approvals.

Questions about whether the $16 billion deal will go through arose earlier this summer due to the impact COVID-19 has had on retail and the ongoing civil unrest in the U.S.

 





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