L’Oreal, Kering boosted by pick-up in Chinese demand

PARIS (AFP) – Top French luxury goods companies L’Oreal and Kering reported strong third quarters as a rebound in demand in their key Chinese markets helped offset the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal said its three months to September sales were down only two per cent at EUR7.04 billion and on a directly comparable basis actually showed a gain of 1.6 per cent.

For the nine months to September, sales were up 8.6 per cent from the same period last year at EUR20.11 billion as the company benefitted from the rebound in China, where the virus first appeared late last year and was only brought under control by a massive lockdown which hit the economy hard.

Since then the Chinese government has steadily removed restrictions to the point where it reports only very few cases and life has returned more or less to a cautious normality.

China on its own showed a sales increase of 18.1 per cent in the nine months while the broader Asia-Pacific was down just 1.9 per cent.

L’Oreal made no forecasts for the full year but said it expected a positive second half, with sales growing on a like-for-like basis, helped by soaring online demand – up more than 61 per cent for the nine months and now accounting for nearly 24 per cent of its business.