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December 1, 2017

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Tiffany profits from Chinese demand

TIFFANY & Co, which has struggled with online competition and lost its luster with younger shoppers, reported a quarterly profit on Wednesday that beat Wall Street’s expectations as shoppers in China snapped up its luxury goods.

The high-end jewelry company’s strength in its third quarter mostly came from the Asia-Pacific region, where sales surged 15 percent to US$283 million. This was mainly due to strong demand in China. Sales were up 5 percent in Europe to US$110 million.

But other places didn’t fare as well. In Japan, sales dropped 8 percent to US$139 million. While Tiffany managed to squeeze out a 1 percent sales increase in the Americas, that was considered a disappointment. The company said that a downturn in spending by foreign tourists was part of the reason for the soft sales.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer’s health, dipped 1 percent.

Under new Chief Executive Alessandro Bogliolo, Tiffany has been trying to lure millennials who are shopping elsewhere online. The company said e-commerce sales increased at a slightly faster pace than overall sales growth.

The New York-based company has stepped up its marketing, using celebrities like Janelle Monae and Zoe Kravitz in advertising. It’s also focusing more on design, and adding more lower-price pieces such as US$95 bone china cups that look like paper cups.

Tiffany’s flagship Manhattan store on Fifth Avenue, playing off Audrey Hepburn’s classic 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” also recently opened a restaurant that features chairs and tables in the company’s signature blue. Tiffany cited long lines for the cafe every day, and the upcoming block of reservations are full.

But the company still has a way to go.

“For as much as Tiffany has made strides, it has not yet regained that full youthful vigor that so many of its peers exhibit,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. He also took a swipe at the holiday lights at Tiffany’s Manhattan store.


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