Interest in Hermès products seems to have weakened among US shoppers this year. In 2014, the brand's sales increased more here than anywhere else — by 15 percent to be exact. But in the first nine months of 2015, sales are only up 7 percent in the Americas due to an "uncertain environment," the French luxury brand said in its third-quarter earnings report on Thursday. In the quarter comprising July, August and September, sales grew only 2 percent here in the States.
Growth was also a tad slow — up 5 percent over the first nine months and 1.5 percent in the third quarter alone — in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan, though this has been true of just about every luxury brand this year, including Burberry, Hugo Boss and Prada. For Hermès, sales have been strongest in Japan (up 19 percent) and Europe (up 10 percent). Still, it reiterated that profit will be lower this year than it was last year, due to currency fluctuations.
Hermès has always been seen as one of the most robust luxury houses, often reporting growth where other companies saw declines. While the prestigious maker of Birkin bags, silk scarves and other timeless status symbols is still doing fine — total revenues are up 9 percent to €3.443 million ($3.72 million) — this report tells us that perhaps it isn't entirely immune to the market challenges other companies face.
The report also tells us a little bit about what the response has been to new Creative Director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski's designs, the first of which started trickling into stores in August and September. Sales of ready-to-wear accelerated about 12 percent in the third quarter (outpacing leather goods slightly) compared to 8 percent in the second quarter and 10 percent in the first. It's not an overwhelming response, and other factors could have contributed to that growth, but it still bodes well for the former The Row and Céline designer.