x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Burberry in fashionable favour as sales jump

Sales boom for the luxury retailer Burberry, which reported 30 per cent revenue growth in the first half.

Burberry sales grew to £830 million (Dh4.79 billion) in the six months to the end of last month. Ravindranath K / The National
Burberry sales grew to £830 million (Dh4.79 billion) in the six months to the end of last month. Ravindranath K / The National

Do not be surprised to see many people in colder climes sporting chequered headgear and quintessentially English trench coats this winter, because sales at Burberry are booming.

Defying the current economic gloom, the luxury retailer, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, reported a 30 per cent increase in global first-half sales compared with the same period last year, helped by emerging market hubs such as Dubai.

"Our first-half performance, with 30 per cent revenue growth, clearly demonstrates the continuing global momentum of the Burberry brand," said Angela Ahrendts, the chief executive of Burberry.

In the UAE, luxury is enjoying a robust revival after the economic crisis, with companies such as the Chalhoub Group, which has partnerships with Fendi, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and Boutique 1, the franchise for Mulberry, experiencing double-digit growth.

British brands are currently popular in the UAE, with Jashanmal launching LK Bennett this week and Chalhoub opening Hackett stores across the Emirates.

Burberry sales grew to £830 million (Dh4.79 billion) in the six months to the end of last month, from £641m in the same period last year, which was at the top end market expectations. Burberry's share price rose more than 2 per cent as a result.

The global luxury sector is enjoying a strong recovery this year, with the retail giant LVMHbenefiting from double-digit growth in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, and Mulberry sales increasing 43 per cent in the year to March.

But shares of luxury companies have suffered along with the rest of the market in recent weeks as global economic uncertainty has panicked investors.

However, Burberry is defying this recent pessimism.

"No evidence of any slowdown … What we have seen is consistent strong brand momentum and business growth," Stacey Cartwright, Burberry's finance director, told Reuters.

Burberry's sales from its own stores were up 45 per cent in the half year compared with the corresponding period last year, to £528m. Wholesale revenue, which comes from department store and franchise agreements, increased 9 per cent to £248m.

The brand, a joint venture in the Middle East with Jashanmal Group, said its flagship markets including New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Dubai performed particularly well.

Demand was driven by new store openings and by tourists from around the world, including China, Brazil, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia.

The Middle East is a huge market for luxury retail, making up 8 per cent of global sales, according to research this week from Lombard Odier.

Customers in emerging markets now account for 44 per cent of total sales, a figure forecast to grow to 60 per cent by 2015.

rjones@thenational.ae