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Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the world’s largest jewelry maker, had the weakest start to a year since the global recession as consumers held back on luxury- goods purchases in Hong Kong, slowing revenue growth from Asia.

Sales rose 4 percent excluding currency shifts in the five months through August, the Geneva-based owner of the Montblanc and IWC brands said in a statement today. That’s the weakest growth since the five-month period through August 2009, when revenue declined. Analysts estimated 6 percent growth, according to the median of 18 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Revenue from the Asia-Pacific region, the source of 40 percent of Richemont’s sales last year, was unchanged, adjusted for currencies. Luxury-goods makers such as LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA have been reporting weaker consumption in that market, which in past years fueled their growth.

Richemont has about 20 brands, including Vacheron Constantin, a 259-year-old Swiss watchmaker, and Giampiero Bodino, a Milan-based high jewelery label it added last year. The company reports five-month sales figures each year on the day of its annual meeting with shareholders.

Johann Rupert, the 64-year-old South African billionaire who is Richemont’s controlling shareholder, stands for election today to regain his former post as chairman after finishing a yearlong sabbatical.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net Thomas Mulier

Bloomberg