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Hermès fashions a margins record

Selling bull-calfskin leather handbags and expensive silk scarves has never been so profitable.

The French luxury brand Hermès has reported forecast-beating results for the final quarter of last year, and said its operating margin is expected to be slightly above its all-time high of 31.2 per cent achieved in 2011, putting the group at its most profitable.

The Paris-based fashion house, which is famous for its £10,000 Birkin and Kelly handbags, recorded revenues of €3.48bn (£2.9bn) for 2012, a rise of 22.6 per cent. Sales for the fourth quarter came in at €1.04bn, with sales growth at 18.5 per cent, boosted by demand in China.

Meanwhile, one of the less expensive luxury brands, the French handbag maker Longchamp, reported sales for 2012 of €454m, up 16 per cent on the previous year.