// LVMH posts 17% drop in first quarter sales due to the coronavirus pandemic
// The group had to shut stores in major parts of the world as part of a lockdown
Louis Vuitton owner LVMH has recorded a 17 per cent drop in comparable sales in the first quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic.
LVMH, which also owns the likes of Dior, Fendi and Givenchy, had to temporarily shut stores in major cities due to the ongoing pandemic.
The luxury retail group also halted production at major sites including in France, where it makes the bulk of its goods, though it has retooled some factories to produce face masks and hand gels.
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LVMH had warned last month that first-quarter sales would drop by around 10 per cent and 20 per cent.
On Thursday, revenue stood at €10.6 billion (£9.08 billion) in the January to March period, down 15 per cent on a reported basis, marking a 17 per cent drop on a like-for-like basis.
Meanwhile, its first-quarter sales fell 10 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared with a year earlier.
The group said online sales had surged thanks to “rapid sales” and it hoped a broad recovery would start in May or June.
LVMH’s manufacturing sites are preparing to reopen with new safety conditions for employees, after they closed in mid-March.
The group has also proposed a 30 per cent reduction in the dividend to €4.80 (£4.11) per share.
“Thanks to everyone’s commitment and the strength of its brands, the LVMH group maintains good resilience in the face of this worldwide challenge,” chief executive Bernard Arnault said.
LVMH chief financial officer Jean Jacques Guiony said he did not expect the pandemic to have a lasting impact, adding that LVMH was keeping a lid on costs including by negotiating rent reductions.