L’Oreal Asia Pacific sales soared by a staggering 24.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis last year.
Asia was the beauty behemoth’s fastest-growing market with all divisions of the business winning market share from rivals in the region.
“The dynamism of Chinese consumers, combined with the good performance of premium brands and rapid growth in several other Southeast Asian markets as well as in travel retail, were the [region’s] main growth drivers,” the company said in an earnings statement.
Singles Day in the fourth quarter especially boosted sales in China, along with the acquisition of Stylenanda in June.
L’Oreal Asia Pacific sales, driven by China, overtook L’Oreal’s North America business, with sales exceeding €7 billion.
Globally, L’Oreal achieved sales of €26.9 billion (US$30.3 billion) last year, an improvement of 7.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 8 per cent at constant exchange rates. Net profit reached €3.89 billion euros, an increase of 8.8 per cent.
L’Oreal’s chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon said the results represented the company’s best year of growth since 2007, achieved in a beauty market which had “accelerated significantly” last year.
All divisions achieved growth, with the standouts being L’Oreal Luxe and Active Cosmetics, which both recorded double-digit sales increases. In the Luxe division, the larger brands led the way, with Lancome sales crossing the €3 billion threshold. The Active Cosmetics division achieved its highest growth for more than 10 years.
Consumer products sales, led by L’Oreal Paris and Maybelline New York, achieved solid growth and professional products a “modest increase” thanks to a significant acceleration in the final quarter, the company said.
A growing investment in e-commerce is paying off, with sales online up 40.6 per cent last year, now accounting for 11 per cent of group sales.
And travel retail broke the €2 billion barrier, increasing by 27.1 per cent.
L’Oreal reported its gross margin increased significantly and, even after strong investments in research, innovation, and business drivers, its operating margin set a new record at 18.3 per cent of sales.