Chanel sales jump

Chanel’s revenue and profit grew by double digits last year as the brand benefited from higher prices and strong demand for its costly fashions and handbags.

Chanel Ltd. sales rose 16% on a comparable basis to $19.7 billion, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Operating profit reached $6.4 billion. The Asia-Pacific region, which represents more than half of total revenue, led the growth.

The performance puts privately held Chanel alongside Hermes International SCA and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE as major luxury groups that have shown the most resilience as demand for high-end goods cools.

The brand is widely viewed as one of the most exclusive, with items such as its medium-size flap bag now selling for more than €10,000 ($10,867) in France after years of steady price hikes. Chanel’s sales growth in 2023 was driven 9% by pricing and 7% by increased volumes, Chief Financial Officer Philippe Blondiaux told Bloomberg in an interview.

The Americas region was the weakest last year, registering a 2.4% increase in sales as higher inflation curbed demand from so-called aspirational customers. The demand picture in the US has been challenging over the last 18 months, Blondiaux said, adding he’s hopeful that a rising stock market and improving macroeconomic conditions will lead to a rebound.

Chanel is owned by the billionaire brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, whose fortunes are estimated at about $47.7 billion each, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The company, founded in Paris but headquartered in London since 2018, reports its financial performance once a year.

A final dividend of £4.5 billion ($5.7 billion) for 2023 has been recommended for approval, a corporate filing showed. This compares with an interim dividend of $1.68 billion for the previous year. In 2021, the payouts amounted to $5 billion, according to the filings.

The brand’s fashion collections are headed by Virginie Viard, who took over after Karl Lagerfeld’s death in 2019. She unveiled Chanel’s cruise collection earlier this month on a rooftop in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, France. Models strutted in cold and windy weather with some wearing pale green tweed ensembles paired with hoodies in an apparent bid to appeal to younger clients.

Since Viard has been in charge, Chanel’s fashion business has more than doubled, with ready-to-wear in particular expanding, Blondiaux said. “The CFO of Chanel is the happiest in the world to have Virginie as a designer,” the executive said. Chief Executive Officer Leena Nair said customers “love the silhouette and fit” of Viard’s creations.

Luxury players have been snapping up properties in crucial retail locations, and this will be a year of “more significant investments in real estate” for Chanel, Blondiaux said, in locations including New York, Paris and secondary cities. The global market value of Chanel’s properties stands at more than $7 billion, he added.

Chanel doesn’t expect the Olympic Games, set to start on July 26 in Paris, will boost business. “We’re not very ambitious for sales in Paris during that period,” given the expected traffic challenges around the French capital, Blondiaux said.