Europe’s lux­ury re­tail­ers may be re­turn­ing to form

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON — On Lon­don’s Bond Street, home to some of the most ex­pen­sive re­tail space in the world, only one store needs to in­sti­gate crowd con­trol, the lux­ury brand of the mo­ment: the Ital­ian fash­ion and ac­ces­sories pow­er­house Gucci.

By mid­morn­ing on a wet and windy Bri­tish mid­sum­mer day, burly se­cu­rity guards had erected vel­vet ropes along one side of the store’s gilded floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows. In­side, a dozen black- clad as­sis­tants raced around on ma­genta car­pets, serv­ing about 20 cus­tomers on the ground floor. An orderly line made up mostly of tourists formed out­side, many of them look­ing hun­grily through the cor­ner store’s glass panes.

It is this sort of slav­ish de­vo­tion from Gucci’s cus­tomer base that re­sulted in the brand’s re­port­ing a 43.4 per­cent in­crease in sales in the first six months of the year. That, com­bined with a sales in­crease of 28.5 per­cent from its sis­ter brand YSL, pro­pelled its par­ent group, Ker­ing, to record growth in rev­enue and prof­its for the pe­riod.

The Ker­ing re­sults came 24 hours af­ter LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuit­ton, the world’s largest lux­ury group by rev­enue, said strong growth in Europe and Asia had bol­stered sales by 12 per­cent in its sec­ond quar­ter. Profit for the first half of the year also grew at its fastest rate since 2011.

An­other ri­val, the up­mar­ket Ital­ian out­er­wear com­pany Mon­cler, said it ex­pected its busi­ness to grow fur­ther this year af­ter it posted higher-than-ex­pected growth in rev­enue for the first half of 2017.

That is part of a trend in the lux­ury sec­tor. Euro­pean power play­ers do not just ap­pear to be qui­etly on the re­bound; they are back with an em­phatic bang.

The suc­cess is ev­i­dent on Bond Street, where Wendi Liu, a vis­i­tor from China, joined the line out­side the Gucci store, ac­com­pa­nied by her older sis­ter. Clutch­ing their iPhones, the pair wore over­size Gucci sun­glasses and planned

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