Burberry says taking share in a tough market

Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:20am EDT
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By Mark Potter

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.   Continued...