Champagne puts the fizz into LVMH sales after flat period

BUBBLING champagne orders helped the world's largest luxury goods group, LVMH, post a forecast-beating 13 per cent rise in first-quarter sales yesterday.

The Paris-based maker of Louis Vuitton handbags and whisky brand Glenmorangie, said its wines, spirits, watches and jewellery businesses, all hit hard by the downturn, had benefited from an improvement in consumer spending.

Revenue in the three months to 31 March came in at 4.47 billion (3.95bn), beating a forecast of 4.21bn in a poll of analysts.

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Dennis Weber, analyst at Evolution Securities, said: "It is much better than expected, across the board." Analysts at HSBC said in a note: "There seems to be a perfect alignment of stars for LVMH at the moment."

LVMH's wine and spirits division grew sales by 20 per cent to 635 million as its Hennessy cognac brand got a boost from the Chinese New Year.

However, it sounded a note of caution on the pace of the upturn. "Taking into account the uncertainty of the strength of the economic recovery, LVMH will continue to concentrate its efforts on the development of its formidable brands while maintaining strict cost management and selective investments," the firm said.

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