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Luxury brands sold more despite economic woes

The demand for luxury goods is heating up among deep-pocketed Korean shoppers despite lingering global economic uncertainties, as shown in the sales data from global luxury brands.

Sales of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Prada and Gucci in Korea jumped 17 percent to 78.4 billion won ($72.5 million) in July compared with a year earlier, according to industry figures on Monday.

Among them, the top three designer brands ― Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes ― accounted for nearly 72 percent with a combined 56.1 billion won of sales, which reflected a 13.5 percent increase from a year ago.

About 90 percent of domestic sales of the three brands were from the country’s four largest department stores ― Lotte, Hyundai, Shinsegae and Galleria, the figures showed.

In terms of revenues, Louis Vuitton was the hottest seller with 32.7 billion won after seeing a 10-percent increase year-on-year, while sales of Chanel soared nearly 20 percent to 17.6 billion won and Hermes by 16 percent to 5.8 billion won.

Italy’s Prada logged the highest revenue growth by growing 66.7 percent with revenues reaching 9 billion won. Sales of Gucci climbed 9 percent to 17.6 billion won.

The numbers reflected an ever-growing appetite for high-end handbags, shoes and accessories among Korean customers, even though some of the European luxury groups such as Louis Vuitton and Prada hiked prices of their products in the first half of the year, industry watchers said.

“The data throws a sidelight on a trend that Koreans are increasingly thirsty for pricey, sumptuous goods,” an industry official said, adding that sales may go up further in the latter half.

According to the National Tax Service, the government’s collected about 5 trillion won of special consumption taxes imposed on luxury products last year, up almost 40 percent from 2009.

Robust demand in Korea and other Asian peers helped LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate which owns Louis Vuitton, post a 13 percent rise in first-half revenue from the same period last year to 10.3 billion euros ($14.7 billion). Net profit surged 25 percent to exceed 1.3 billion euros.

By Shin Hyon-hee (