In February last year, Pinault announced turnaround plans for Gucci amid a slowdown; following investments in higher-end products, events and marketing, including a collaboration with Balenciaga. The Aria collection, positioned at a much higher price point than usual for Gucci, marked a shift in strategy.
“Gucci is a century-old house that has all the characteristics of a young adult,” Pinault said during a press briefing following the investor call on Thursday. “This beat is important, as it breaks a few quarters of lacklustre performance relative to peers,” Bernstein analyst Luca Solca wrote in a note.
In 2021, Kering’s revenue rose 35 per cent from 2020 to €17.64 billion and climbed 13 per cent versus 2019. Saint Laurent rose 47 per cent in the fourth quarter, Bottega Veneta rose 14 per cent, and the other houses category, which includes Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen, jumped 34 per cent. Kering’s overall retail sales surged in the US and Asia Pacific (minus Japan), up 82 per cent and 37 per cent respectively in the fourth quarter versus 2019. Europe remained below pre-pandemic levels, down 4 per cent. “We are firing on all cylinders and all of our houses contributed to our strong performance,” Pinault said. The company is actively looking at acquisition opportunities, he noted, including in the jewellery category.
Kering joins LVMH and other luxury companies in a broader industry rebound. LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division reported a 42 per cent increase in 2021 over 2019, with growth surging in the US and Asia led by stalwart brands Louis Vuitton and Dior.
“While it is too early to conclude on the success of Gucci’s ‘new chapter’ of growth, the retail growth gap between Gucci and best-in-class peers has narrowed — a positive,” Citi analyst Thomas Chauvet told Vogue Business.
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