Slowing Demand for Luxury Goods Takes Shine Off Richemont

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Luxury goods group Richemont , maker of Cartier jewellery, gave a cautious outlook on Monday after slowing wholesale demand for its pricey products pushed sales growth in the last quarter below forecasts.

Sales rose 5 percent at constant exchange rates in the three months to end-December to 2.862 billion euros ($3.8 billion), missing forecasts for a 7.6 percent rise in a Reuters poll as the previously booming Asia-Pacific region reported no growth.

"At this stage, it is unclear how business patterns may develop and how the business in the Asia Pacific region will evolve in the near future," Richemont said in a statement.

Richemont said the rate of wholesale growth fell in the quarter to just 2 percent from 8 percent in the April to September period due to caution by retailers in Hong Kong and mainland China and a less favourable environment.

Boutique openings helped maintain retail sales growth at 9 percent, from 15 percent in the first half, while strong jewellery sales also helped.

The maker of IWC and Lange & Soehne watches said sales growth in the Americas accelerated to 13 percent from 4 percent in the first half, with both retail and wholesale doing well, but sales growth slipped to 9 percent in Europe from 19 percent. ($1 = 0.7524 euros)