Deluxe growth as Chinese buy posh

By Reuters Staff
February 20, 2013

By Stephen Eisenhammer

Luxury brands are set to grow further in 2013, as the sector continues to dodge the fallout from stalling European and U.S. economies by appealing to consumers in emerging markets such as Brazil, China and the Middle East.

The industry is set to grow 6-8 percent this year according to the Zurich-based asset management fund Swiss & Global, with 90 percent of that growth coming from consumers in emerging economies.

The global industry, which is estimated by luxury consultants Bain & Company to be worth more than $34 billion, has been a counter-intuitive success story of the past years of economic crisis and government austerity measures.

Swiss & Global said it expected luxury brand purchases in emerging economies, which already accounts for half of all sales, to increase further, driven by rising demand in China.

“Chinese luxury consumption, which nearly constitutes 30 percent of the market, is expected to continue to grow on average at a double-digit pace in the coming years,” the fund said in a note.

Swiss & Global, which has holdings in Prada, Estee Lauder, and Pernod Ricard, said consumption of luxury brands will also rise in Brazil, Russia and the Middle East.

“Investing in luxury goods offers investors exposure to the rapid growth of consumption in emerging markets via well-managed western companies with strong balance sheets and financials. One third of the companies we invest in have a net cash position and the average operating margin is 18 percent,” it said.

“Cash-rich firms could prompt an increase in mergers and acquisitions in 2013, though good brands remain expensive, whilst the best are usually not for sale.”

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