Vendome dismisses bid rumours

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The Independent Online
Vendome, the Swiss luxury goods group that owns the Cartier, Dunhill and Mont Blanc brands, quashed rumours yesterday that the controlling Richemont group was set to buy the 30 per cent of the Vendome shares it does not already own.

Lord Douro, deputy chairman, said: "These rumours have been circulating for a couple of weeks but Richemont has made it clear that it has no intention of making a bid for the whole of the company."

The resolution was hammered out in a Luxembourg board meeting on Tuesday attended by Johann Rupert, chief executive of Richemont and also a director of Vendome.

The announcement came as Vendome reported disappointing results that were held back by the strength of the Swiss franc as well as string of "exceptional events" in Europe and Japan. Atrributable profits in the year to March fell 0.2 per cent to pounds 193m. The company blamed social unrest in France, reactions to nuclear tests in the Pacific which led to reduced tourism, and the Kobe earthquake in Japan which destroyed two of the company's shops.

Many of these events affected sales in October, November and December, which are traditionally important sales periods for Vendome.

The unrest caused by nuclear tests in the Pacific led to a sharp fall in Asian tourists to France which further damaged sales.

Sales of jewellery and watches were strong though sales of smoking accessories and women's clothing were disappointing. Jewellery sales increased by 7.4 per cent. Sales of writing instruments edged 1.4 per cent higher.

Sales to the Fast East rose by 8.3 per cent.