* Sales of luxury goods in Japan improving -- Dior CEO
* Is confident it will return to pre-earthquake levels (Rewrites throughout; adds details)
By Amie Ferris-Rotman and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya
MOSCOW, April 26 (Reuters) - Luxury goods sales in Japan are improving and likely to recover to levels seen before last month’s earthquake and nuclear crisis, the Chief Executive of French luxury house Christian Dior SA (DIOR.PA) told Reuters on Tuesday.
“My first concern is the situation with the people. Thank God that, despite what happened, things (sales) are improving now,” Sidney Toledano said on the fringes of an exhibit of Dior dresses and shoes in Moscow.
His comments echoed those of other executives from top luxury brands who also believe Japan -- one of the world’s top buyers of luxury goods -- is on the mend.
“I am sure Japan will recover ... They love luxury, they love what we do and I believe in our long-term relationship,” he said, adding he would visit Japan by the end of the week.
Christian Dior, which makes couture dresses, clothing, perfumes, make-up and accessories, is the jewel in the crown of the world’s biggest luxury goods company, LVMH (LVMH.PA).
LVMH has said the earthquake and subsequent nuclear power station crisis hit sales in Japan by 25 percent in March, or 9 percent for the first quarter. [ID:nLDE73I08R]
Toledano and LVMH Chief Executive Bernard Arnault jetted into Moscow with many of the fashion houses’ designers and models, showing confidence in a Russian luxury market that suffered a severe blow during the financial crisis of 2008/2009.
The Christian Dior CEO added the company’s 2010 sales in luxury-loving Russia had been “excellent” and the first quarter of 2011 was on its way to being even better.
Russia’s luxury recovery has been slow but steady since the crisis, which slashed the $8 billion market in half, although analysts say big Asian markets have replaced it as the one time fourth-largest buyer globally of luxury goods. [ID:nLDE733178]
Toledano said major Asian market China was “more than booming” due to its swelling middle class, but declined to speculate about analyst forecasts the country could take over the United States within five to 10 years as the world’s top luxury goods buyer.
He was speaking at an exhibit of 110 Christian Dior dresses at Moscow’s state-run Pushkin Museum. (Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman and John Bowker; editing by Andre Grenon)