Burberry’s Brexit Benefit Not Enough to Offset Asian Woes

  • Retailer’s sales in Hong Kong decline by more than 10 percent
  • Fashion label’s shares fall 6.2 percent in early trading

Ward: A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Luxury

Burberry Group Plc, the British trench coat maker, reported declines in its Asian business and worsening results from its wholesale unit, offsetting a boost in tourist spending on luxury goods in the U.K. after the Brexit referendum.

Consumer demand remained weak in Hong Kong, London-based Burberry said in a statement Tuesday, with sales falling by more than 10 percent in the six months through September. Burberry also lowered its sales outlook for the wholesale business to a decline of about 15 percent in the second half, worse than the 10 percent falloff expected earlier in the year. The shares fell as much as 6.2 percent in early London trading.

“While retail comparable store sales growth for 2Q16 was in-line, poor wholesale dragged the results,” Mario Ortelli, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in a note. Second-quarter retail sales climbed 2 percent on a comparable basis, marking the first increase in more than a year.

The luxury goods industry is grappling with a slowdown from terrorism and falling demand from free-spending Asian shoppers, prompting companies like Richemont and Hermes to provide disappointing outlooks. Complicating matters, many fashion companies have reshuffled senior management, including Burberry, which appointed Marco Gobbetti as chief executive officer after Christopher Bailey’s two-year tenure led to a fall in profits. Burberry said it’s been cutting prices in Hong Kong and Macau.

Spending on luxury items in the U.K. is rising as sterling’s fall has made Burberry’s scarves and bags cheaper for shoppers visiting from China and other countries. Sales rose by more than 30 percent in the U.K, the company said, boosted by demand for its runway rucksack and the new Buckle bag collection.

“The U.K. stood out as the main positive in the quarter,” Rogerio Fujimori, an analyst at RBC Capital, said in a note. The company said it gets about 15 percent of retail sales from the U.K.

Burberry also said the weakness of sterling will add as much as 125 million pounds ($153 million) to full-year profit, based on recent exchange rates. In July, the company forecast a 90 million-pound boost. The company maintained its full-year profit outlook.

Revenue rose 5 percent to 1.16 billion pounds in the six months through September, in line with estimates.

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