Richemont’s watchmakers enjoyed double-digit sales growth (Fabrice COFFRINI)

Zurich (AFP) – Swiss luxury group Richemont said Friday its sales and profit surged in its latest fiscal year thanks to its integration of online retailers Yoox Net-A-Porter and Watchfinder.

Richemont, ranked second only to French giant LVMH, has recently focused on online platforms as a sales channel, an area where until recently the luxury goods industry had moved with reticence over concerns over damaging their image.

The buyout last year, and a re-evaluation of the value of Yoox Net-A-Porter helped send net profit 128 percent higher to 2.7 billion euros ($3.0 billion). That was nevertheless below the analyst consensus of 2.9 billion euros calculated by Swiss financial news agency AWP.

Sales rose by 27 percent to 13.9 billion euros in the group’s fiscal year that ended on March 31, thanks also to the addition of Watchfinder, a platform for selling used luxury timepieces.

Excluding these two online distributors sales rose by 8 percent at the group which includes jeweller Cartier and watchmakers Piaget, IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Online has been an area of strong growth for the luxury industry, and with Net-a-Porter carrying its own brands plus rivals’ it aims to become a one-stop shop for the fashion conscious, thus giving Richemont a greater slice of the pie.

And thanks to plans for a partnership with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to develop platforms in China for high-end products, Yoox Net-A-Porter could gain access to what is seen as one of the most important markets for the industry.

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert said “the discussions are progressing” with Alibaba.

Disclaimer: Validity of the above story is for 7 Days from original date of publishing. Source: AFP.