Slowly but surely, we've watched Gucci's earnings reports improve from minor declines to increasingly significant growth in revenue as it's undergone a 360-degree overhaul on both the creative and business sides. But the lift in sales was never as meteoric as Saint Laurent's when it underwent a similar overhaul by Hedi Slimane. While Gucci was much bigger than Saint Laurent to begin with, the two Kering-owned houses have naturally been compared to one another due to their cool, fashion-forward images and brand transformations; but Saint Laurent has continued to outperform Gucci even after Slimane has left. Until now, that is.
The Italian brand's sales made a record 48.3 percent jump — on a comparable basis — in the first quarter of fiscal 2017. Sales in all regions and all product categories improved, driven by both wholesale (up 37 percent) and its own stores (up 34 percent).
Gucci even outperformed Saint Laurent, whose comparable revenue grew a still-impressive 33.4 percent. The company said it saw a "great reception" for Anthony Vaccarello's first collection for the house, which hit stores in January.
This all contributed to a strong quarter for parent company Kering, during which overall comparable revenue grew 28.6 percent to €3.57 billion (about $3.9 billion), driven by the luxury goods segment in which comparable revenue grew 31.6 percent. "Benefitting from somewhat more favorable market conditions, our strong delivery primarily stems from meticulous execution of our strategy and the creative audacity of our Houses," said CEO François-Henri Pinault in a statement.
Indeed, during a conference call with investors and analysts, Pinault repeatedly stressed that Alessandro Michele and Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri deserve credit for the brand's remarkable sales growth and that all the initiatives they implemented have paid off; the growth was not only due to market improvements. That said, Pinault expects the brand's growth to normalize after the quarter and noted that the first quarter of last year, to which all of this year's numbers are being compared, was an especially bad one, making this quarter's growth look especially strong.