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Richemont 05/06 sales rise 17 pct on watches

Written by: Staff
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ZURICH, Apr 25 (Reuters) Richemont, the world's second-largest luxury goods maker reported a 17 percent rise in full-year sales boosted by strong performances at its watch and jewellery divisions, the group said on Tuesday.

Sales in its financial year to end-March 2006 rose to 4.308 billion euros (.33 billion), above the highest forecast in a Reuters poll of eighteen analysts of 4.293 billion.

The maker of Cartier watches and Lancel handbags said it had seen particularly strong growth in its specialist watchmaking division, which grew 22 percent.

The group's jewellery sales grew 15 percent, boosted by strong sales at its Cartier brand, which showed good growth in the Americas, Japan and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

Richemont, which owns watch brands Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Panerai, is benefiting from strong demand for luxury goods as economies recover around the world, fuelling consumers' appetite for accessories.

''The sales trend seen during the first six months of the year and the pre-Christmas period continued into the fourth quarter of the financial year,'' Richemont said in a statement.

Group revenues grew most strongly in the Americas, where sales rose 26 percent. European sales, which account for 42 percent of group sales, rose 15 percent.

The company did not provide an outlook for the current year prior to the publication of Richemont's full-year profits on June 8.

The company's shares have risen 16 percent so far this year and closed at 66.10 francs on Monday. Trading will resume at 0700 GMT.

REUTERS ARB KN1127

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