* Q3 sales 849 million euros
* Says 2012 sales growth could top 13 percent
* Shares up 2.9 percent
(Adds CEO comment, analyst, detail, rivals)
By Astrid Wendlandt
PARIS, Nov 8 French luxury goods group Hermes
has seen no sign of weakness in demand, even in Asia,
unlike peers who have highlighted flagging demand.
Chief executive Patrick Thomas said trading remained strong
in South Korea, Taiwan and also in China where other luxury
brands such as Burberry, LVMH's Louis Vuitton
and PPR's Gucci have posted slowing sales growth.
"Globally, we do not see any slowdown anywhere ... including
in Asia," Thomas told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
Hermes, known for silk scarves and Birkin and Kelly
handbags, said third-quarter sales rose 15.7 percent at constant
currencies to 849 million euros ($1.1 billion), up from 13.4
percent in the second quarter.
October was in line with the third quarter, Thomas said.
Revenue from China was up 27 percent in the three-month
period, with the country now accounting for about 25 percent of
group turnover against 19 percent last year, he said.
In contrast, Louis Vuitton's third-quarter sales in China
were estimated to be around 5 percent higher, with some analysts
saying it has been suffering from its own success after flooding
the market with its products. As a result, certain consumers
have started to feel jaded with the brand.
Louis Vuitton, the world's biggest luxury brand in terms of
sales with revenue of more than 7 billion euros, is also more
affordable than Hermes.
Louis Vuitton sells leather bags starting at around 760
euros, while Hermes starts at 1,380 euros. Hermes had revenue of
2.8 billion euros last year.
Louis Vuitton makes up about 75 percent of sales generated
by the fashion and leather division of parent LVMH, the No.1
luxury goods group whose brands include Roman jeweller Bulgari
and fashion brands Celine, Fendi and Kenzo.
Shares in Hermes, the maker of 12,000-euro handbags and
400-euro scarves, were up 2.9 percent at 1305 GMT.
Last month, LVMH's fashion and leather goods unit said sales
growth slowed to 5 percent in the third quarter from 8 percent
in the second quarter and January-March's 12 percent rise.
Meanwhile, Gucci fared a little better, with sales growth
down to 7 percent in the third quarter, against 10 percent in
the second and 11.6 percent in the first.
Thomas said Hermes's strategy of limited growth was paying
off as it had helped the brand retain an exclusive image.
He said Hermes could grow about 10 percent annually in terms
of volumes of goods produced because it could only hire and
train 200-250 artisans a year.
Hermes said 2012 sales growth at constant exchange rates
could exceed 13 percent, up from a previous forecast of 12
percent that had been raised from 10 percent in August.
UBS analysts said in a note Hermes was "defying the gravity
that had impacted a number of the other European luxury players"
and raised its full-year sales growth estimate to 13.9 percent
from 12.4 percent.
Hermes said its full-year operating margin would fall from
last year's record high of 31.2 percent and be above the 27.8
percent recorded for 2010.
Thomas said travel retail sales were also strong and perfume
revenue remained buoyant - up 14 percent at constant currencies.
French cosmetics maker L'Oreal had said this week
it suffered a slowdown, mainly in Asia and Southern Europe.
($1 = 0.7840 euro)
($1 = 0.7840 euros)
(Additional reporting by Pascale Denis; Editing by Dan Lalor
and James Regan)