L’Oreal Asia sales outpace Europe for the first time

L’Oreal Asia now sells more products than the company’s home European division.

Sales in Asia outpaced those in western Europe for the first time in the last quarter, with China leading the growth, despite a slowing economy.

Just a decade ago, L’Oreal Asia sales were less than one third of its European sales.

Globally, first-quarter L’Oreal sales rose 7.7 per cent for the quarter to US$8.53 billion, excluding currency fluctuations. That news drove the company’s share price even higher, taking growth to 21 per cent so far this year. It is now France’s second-largest company by market value.

L’Oreal, which owns Garnier, Maybelline, Acqua di Gio Armani, and Laroche Posay, has become increasingly reliant on fast-growing Asian economies to maintain growth rates impossible in its mature home and North American markets. But analysts like James Edwards Jones are unconcerned by such reliance.

“It is true that the growth is not broad-based. But given L’Oreal’s proven ability to identify, stimulate and capitalise on those parts of the business where the most attractive growth is to be had, we struggle to find fault with this,” the company said in a client note.

L’Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon says young Chinese consumers are increasingly drawn to luxury brands, a positive trend for the cosmetics manufacturer.

European sales were rebounding but “nothing would compete with what we see in Asia,” he said in an analyst briefing.

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