Ralph Lauren back in vogue as pandemic curbs ease

A security guard stands outside the Ralph Lauren store during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Aug 3 (Reuters) - Shoppers globally are returning to buying Ralph Lauren Corp's (RL.N) Polo shirts, sports coats and dresses, the company said on Tuesday as it benefits from a post-lockdown luxury sales boom and revamped marketing campaigns.

The New York-based retailer's shares rose more than 7% to $126.36 as the company raised its annual revenue forecast, while also beating estimates for first-quarter sales, joining rivals LVMH (LVMH.PA), Kering SA (PRTP.PA) and Michael Kors-owner Capri Holdings Ltd (CPRI.N) in posting strong results.

Luxury goods companies have benefited from the gradual resumption of social events and gatherings in Europe and the United States over the last few months, as the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines helps ease lockdown restrictions.

"As markets reopen around the world, consumers are shifting back to many of the key categories that drove our business prior to the pandemic," Chief Executive Officer Patrice Louvet said.

The company was working on bringing back dressy casual designs to stores to capitalize on that demand, while scaling back stay-at-home products such as pajamas and sweats, according to Louvet.

Ralph Lauren is also doubling down on marketing this year, promoting its brand by sponsoring the U.S. Olympic team and events such as Wimbledon and Major League Baseball.

Its marketing spend in the first quarter was double that of the year-earlier pandemic-hit period, and about 40% higher than 2019. With global tourism still sluggish, Louvet said the company had shifted its advertising campaigns to target local shoppers rather than tourists.

Ralph Lauren now expects fiscal 2022 revenue to rise between 25% and 30% on a reported basis, having previously estimated a 20% to 25% increase on a comparable basis.

The company's net revenue rose to $1.38 billion in the quarter ended June 26. Analysts had expected revenue of $1.22 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Shounak Dasgupta

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