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Fewer rich Russians hit this luxury brand

Fewer wealthy Russians have been shopping in Italian luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo's European stores, its CEO told CNBC, as the company feels the impact of the crisis gripping the region.

But Salvatore Ferragamo head Michele Norsa said the impact would likely be short term.

"I would say the impact has been quite limited in the first quarter because… the tension between Russia and Ukraine was just at the end of March. What we have definitely started seeing is less Russian and Ukrainian traffic in the European stores," Norsa told CNBC in a TV interview interview.

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He added that it was not easy to measure the impact of the Ukraine crisis because the brand's wealthy Russian customers were dispersed across a number of European countries.

"Our expectation is really for a short-time impact since they have been one of the best consumers… in all of the countries, so we do expect a short-term effect," Norsa said.

The comments come amid heightened tensions in eastern Ukraine, where the army is fighting pro-Russian separatists who have occupied state buildings across the region. A United Nations report released on Friday warned of an "alarming deterioration" in human rights in the area.

The United States and European Union are trying to pressure Russia into dialing back its involvement in the political affairs of Ukraine by imposing economic sanctions that target banks and dozens of officials.

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Uncertainty over potential future sanctions has led to cautiousness among Russians across Europe, and analysts warn the luxury sector could be hit as a result.

Ernesto Ruscio | Getty Images

"I think there is an impact because Russia is particularly important in the European market. How short-lived it is depends on how the crisis pans out," Rahul Sharma, founder of Neev Capital, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"The number one buyer is the Chinese but the Russians aren't far down."

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A fall in Russian buying abroad could result in increasing sales in domestic stores, according to a note released by Ledbury Research. A weaker rouble versus other currencies could discourage Russians from traveling abroad, seeing them spend more in their home country.

Norsa confirmed the trend, and said Salvatore Ferragamo's Russian and Ukrainian market had performed better than expected.

Salvatore Ferragamo reported first quarter revenues of 299 million euros ($410.2 million) on Tuesday, an increase of 6 percent from the same time last year. Operating profit was up 7 percent at 42 million euros.

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