Outlook brightens for Italian luxury sector: study

Prospects for Italy's luxury goods sector are looking up thanks to strong sales forecasts in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, the Altagamma Foundation said Friday.

Sales are expected to grow throughout the world - with the exception of Japan - and across all luxury product categories in 2010, according to a survey based on analyses by a dozen banks and research firms.

"These last two difficult years have spurred high-end companies to focus on consumers, to concentrate on their core business, and to further invest energy and resources on product design and innovation," said Altagamma chairman Santo Versace, president of the Gianni Versace fashion house.

The global financial crisis severely dampened sales of luxury goods throughout 2009 as consumers postponed purchases or traded down for cheaper alternatives.

Overall sales in Asia are forecast to grow the most with a 15 percent increase in 2010, Altagamma said, while noting that the luxury goods market in Japan will shrink for the sixth consecutive year, by 3.6 percent in 2010.

Luxury goods companies can also expect strong performances in Latin America (up 8.7 percent) and the Middle East (up 6.6 percent).

In North America, consumption will grow by 2.6 percent in the first six months of 2010 and accelerate to 6.8 percent in the second half of the year, the survey found.

Sales of jewellery, watches, pens and lighters are expected to grow by 7.5 percent, with apparel, bags, shoes and cosmetics growing by about 5.0 percent.

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