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Vendome ahead in jewellery boom

Vendome, the luxury goods group best known for its Cartier and Alfred Dunhill brands, has increased half-year profits by nearly one-third, helped by strong sales of jewellery and watches. It also appears to have shrugged off the turbulence in the Far East. Nigel Cope, City Correspondent, reports.

Vendome, which is largely Swiss-based but is listed on the London stock market, said sales of jewellery were up by 46 per cent across the group with sales strong in Europe, the Far East and the Americas. Watch sales were also strong in all markets with the more expensive gold and jewellery timepieces selling strongest.

Reporting a 30 per cent increase in half-year profits to SFr279.2 (pounds 121.4m), Lord Douro, Vendome's deputy chairman, said the group's sales in the Far East, had not been affected by the turbulence in the financial markets there. The region accounts for 38 per cent of group sales.

He added: "There is no evidence that group sales have been much affected by currency and stock market falls in the Far East. In a time of financial volatility there is not usually that much effect on the top end of the luxury goods market. There is a tendency to buy goods that retain their value."

Sales in Japan, which account for 16 per cent of group sales, have continued to grow strongly. However, Lord Douro said sales to Japanese nationals travelling elsewhere in the Far East had been hit. Sales in Japan had been "holding up" in November, Lord Douro said, though figures were not yet available.

Chloe, Vendome's haute couture fashion label where Paul McCartney''s daughter Stella is the chief designer, has performed well. Sales from the Paris show six weeks ago are significantly higher than the previous year." Lord Douro said sales from the show were not included in the group's half year figures and would have only a minimal impact on the next reporting period.

Lord Douro shrugged off criticism that Vendome was poorly understood by the City, which had also urged the group to report on how its individual brands were performing.

The company is majority owned by the South African controlled, Richemont Securities, and was formed four years ago as part of the re-organisation of the luxury goods businesses of Richemont, Dunhill Holdings and Rothmans International.