Vendome gains strength from ventures in the east

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The Independent Online
SELLING Cartier baubles in China and Russia, together with the introduction of a number of new products, helped the luxury goods group Vendome to a 3 per cent increase in profit before tax to pounds 196.1m in the year to March.

Joe Kanoui, Vendome's chairman, said he believed China and the former Soviet countries would offer good growth opportunities for the group. Its Cartier store in Shanghai, opened last year, is the first in the country. It also opened in Moscow.

The openings helped jewellery sales to rise by 24.9 per cent to pounds 139.1m, although part of that was due to currency fluctuations. The group prefers to report its results in Swiss francs, which meant the reported increase was lower, at 15 per cent. Similarly, sales of watches were slightly lower at Sfr952.4m, although translating that into sterling produced a pounds 30m increase to pounds 432.9m.

The results were the first to be announced by the group since it was born out of a restructuring of the luxury goods holdings of Richemont, the Swiss holding company. Under the arrangement Cartier - which also includes the Piaget and Chloe brands - was merged with Dunhill.

Rothmans, the cigarette company controlled by Richemont, gave up its shareholding in both groups. Richemont still has 70 per cent of Vendome's shares. Vendome also owns the Karl Lagerfeld fashion house.

Earnings per share, excluding the exceptional charges, were 25.1p, up 23 per cent, and the dividend is 6.9p.

(Photograph omitted)

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