July 16, 2009 / 12:22 PM / 8 years ago

Burberry says taking share in a tough market

LONDON (Reuters) - British luxury goods group Burberry met forecasts with a 4 percent fall in first-quarter underlying revenues and said on Wednesday it was taking market share in a tough trading environment.

The 153-year-old maker of raincoats and handbags said sales were strong in Britain and South Korea, helped by weaker currencies, but remained down in the United States and Spain.

Finance director Stacey Cartwright told reporters it was too early to talk of a recovery, but she was encouraged retailers were being more disciplined with promotions and by demand for Burberry’s newer areas of focus, such as shoes, childrenswear, leather and denim.

“We think (we’re gaining market share) almost everywhere ... particularly in the U.S.,” she said.

Revenues rose 8 percent year-on-year to 229 million pounds ($373 million) in the three months to June 30, but were down 4 percent at constant exchange rates. Forecasts ranged from 218-239 million pounds in a Reuters poll of seven analysts.

Retailers have been hit hard by a global economic downturn and while there have been signs of stabilization, a recovery is by no means assured.

Swedish fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz, which has coped better than most in the downturn thanks to its focus on low prices, reported on Wednesday a bigger-than-expected 5 percent drop in same-store sales for June.

Burberry, known for its camel, red and black check pattern, responded quickly to the recession by slashing costs and around 800 jobs, or about 15 percent of its workforce.

After plunging as much as 70 percent last year, its shares have outperformed the DJ Stoxx personal and household goods index by 100 percent this year.

At 0745 GMT, Burberry stock was down 1.8 percent at 418.25 pence, lagging a 1.2 percent rise on Britain’s FTSE mid-cap index.

Credit Suisse analysts said the first-quarter performance was slightly better than expected, but noted the share’s strong recent performance and kept a “neutral” rating on the stock.

Cartwright said she did not expect analysts to change full-year forecasts following the trading update.

MIXED MARKETS

Burberry, which makes about two thirds of revenues from its retail outlets, said first-quarter retail sales rose an underlying 12 percent to 148 million pounds, helped by new openings and a better-than-expected flat performance in comparable store sales.

Double-digit percentage gains in European and Asian markets were led by Britain and South Korea, where weaker currencies have been attracting tourists and persuading domestic shoppers to stay at home.

This was offset, however, by double-digit percentage declines in the United States and Spain.

Burberry trades from 118 retail stores, 253 concessions, 47 outlets, 84 franchise stores and the Internet in over 25 countries.

Wholesale revenues dropped an underlying 28 percent, due partly to lower orders from customers and also to Burberry’s previously announced decision to close its underperforming Thomas Burberry brand in Spain. The firm kept its forecast for a first-half fall of 25 percent in underlying wholesale revenues.

Licensing revenues fell an underlying 3 percent. The group forecasts a 10-15 percent drop in full-year licensing revenues.

(Editing by Dan Lalor)

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