Surging sales at Louis Vuitton and Dior helped French luxury giant LVMH make a very strong start to 2021, with overall revenues returning to growth in the first quarter despite new coronavirus lockdowns in much of Europe.

Louis Vuitton – Fall-Winter2021 – Womenswear – Paris – © PixelFormula

LVMH said like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of currency changes and its acquisition of U.S. jeweller Tiffany, rose by 30% in the three months to March to 14 billion euros ($16.70 billion).

That was nearly double an analyst consensus forecast for 17% growth cited by UBS. Compared to pre-pandemic levels and the first quarter of 2019, like-for-like sales were up 8%.

Revenues had dropped by 16% last year due to shop closures and the freeze in international tourism triggered by the pandemic. But luxury customers have begun buying more online, and in key markets like China, stores have been open since last spring, driving a sharp recovery.

The fashion and leather goods division, which accounts for nearly half of LVMH’s revenues, recorded a 52% increase in like-for-like sales, again way above analysts forecasts of a 27% rise.

The watches and jewellery division saw sales rise by 138% when including acquisitions and exchange rate effects, benefitting from the consolidation of Tiffany. LVMH completed the $15.8 billion acquisition in early January after a bitter legal battle.

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