March 5 - Italian luxury fashion house Prada beats analysts' estimates, as strong sales in Asia help offset weaker spending in Europe. Hayley Platt reports.
217 million euros is today's daily digit in Europe - the quarterly net profit for luxury brand Prada. Strong growth in Asia helped beat forecasts and strengthen its position in the luxury market where it competes with Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Sales in recession-hit Europe still managed to grow but at a slower pace than Asia, which accounts for more than a third of its business. Richard Hunter is from Hargreaves Lansdown. SOUNDBITE: Richard Hunter, Head of Equities, Hargreaves & Lansdown, saying (English): "The long term trajectory is still very much in place not only in China but also in the likes of India where you've got the emergence for the first ever time of a middle class. A middle class that's prepared to spend increasingly. And if Japan succeeds in stimulating its own economy then you can probably add some Japanese consumers to the list as well." The Milan-based luxury bag maker is seen as a barometer for the booming luxury goods market in Asia, especially Greater China. And fears sales would be hurt by a crackdown on corruption and conspicuous consumption in China in the second half of last seem unfounded. As are concerns that luxury spending would be hit by a drop in tourist demand in Europe. SOUNDBITE: Richard Hunter, Head of Equities, Hargreaves & Lansdown, saying (English): "I think there's a distinction to be made between the uber wealthy and the more aspirational buyer. The uber wealthy aren't going to be affected to any great degree by recessions or depressions and those are the kinds of people who will continue to buy these real high end bargains." Overall revenues improved last year by 29 percent to 3.3 billion euros. And shares in Prada more than doubled in the same period. So far this year they've risen 4 percent. The group says it's now looking to the Middle East and the Americas for new markets, where it has a smaller presence than rivals LVMH and Salvatore Ferragamo.