Family businesses in the luxury sector have once again defied the wider economic gloom with Swiss group Richemont posting a 50% rise in profits, while a number of European firms in other sectors have had a difficult first quarter.
Rupert family-controlled Richemont, which owns luxury brands such as Cartier and Piaget, said on 16 May that operating profits for the year ending 31 March increased by 51% to €2.04 billion.
Revenues rose by around 30% to €8.87 billion, largely due to the strong performance of its jewellery and watch divisions.
“The growth in sales reflected the continuing demand for established product lines, the successful introduction of new products and the impact of boutique openings,” added a statement from the Geneva-based group.
Fellow family-controlled Musgrave Group, the Irish wholesaler and grocery retailer, has seen a small rise in revenue despite “a consumer that is focused on spending less”. Sales for the year ending 31 December rose by 1.6% to €4.46 billion, but profits dropped by 1% to €71 million.
The group, represented by family member Peter Musgrave who serves as vice-chairman, added its outlook for 2012 is “challenging especially in Ireland” – it is expecting little to no growth in the country’s grocery market.
Heraeus Holding, the German engineering company that operates in the precious metals sector, said on 10 May that its product and trading revenues for fiscal 2011 rose by almost 20%, making it the “most successful year” in the company’s history.
Sales from its product divisions increased to €4.84 billion, while trading revenues were more than €21 billion, the group said.
When it comes to quarterly results, two of Denmark’s industrial conglomerates – AP Moller-Maersk Group and Danfoss – have respectively reported a decline in profits and revenues.
Majority owned by the AP Moller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Moller Foundation – established by the company’s founder Arnold Peter Moller – Moller-Maersk said interim sales for the first three months of 2012 rose by 3% to 81.25 billion Danish kroner (€10.93 billion).
But profits took a big hit, falling by 36% to 14.42 billion Danish kroner, due to “continued loss-making rates in the container and tanker markets”.
Fellow family-controlled industrial group Danfoss, owned by the Clausen family, said sales for the first quarter fell by 2% to 8.36 million Danish kroner. But the group reckoned its revenues were still “satisfactory”.