Prada says China sales to date well above 2019 levels

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian luxury goods group Prada's 1913.HK sales in China have recovered strongly since shops reopened there and to date have risen well above last year's levels, Chief Executive Patrizio Bertelli told Reuters on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Prada luxury fashion boutique near Wangfujing Street, a pedestrianised shopping area, in Beijing, China October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Bertelli said the appetite of Chinese customers for luxury goods remained very strong despite the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has tipped the global economy into recession and frozen international travel.

The virus first emerged in China late last year and then spread to the rest of the world, forcing high-end retailers to temporarily close stores and idle manufacturing sites.

The industry’s overall sales are expected to decline by up to 35% in 2020, but luxury groups are betting on a strong rebound in mainland China to limit the damage.

“To date, the Prada Group’s sales in China have already largely exceeded the levels of 2019, showing double-digit growth since the beginning of the year,” Bertelli said in an emailed statement.

He said the recovery in China had accelerated since the end of March, with sales growth of up to more than 60% in following months.

“We believe that the same trend can be maintained in the coming months,” Bertelli said.

He added that Prada’s sales for China Valentine’s Day, which this year fell on August 25, hit an all-time record.

Hong Kong-listed Prada’s first-half global sales plunged by 40% at constant exchange rates, though the group said when it presented its results that retail sales in mainland China had increased by 60% in June and 66% in July.

The Asia Pacific region accounted for 44% of Prada’s sales in the six months to June.

Chinese shoppers were responsible for 37% of global luxury goods purchases in 2019, according to consultancy Bain, with the bulk of the shopping done when travelling abroad.

Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Claudia Cristoferi, editing by Elaine Hardcastle