Moncler's first-quarter sales boosted by growth in Asia and North America

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FILE PHOTO: Milan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2020

MILAN (Reuters) - Luxury puffer jacket maker Moncler posted on Thursday a strong increase in first quarter sales, a touch under those in the first quarter of 2019 - before the coronavirus pandemic -, boosted by a strong growth in Asia and solid signs of recovery in North America.

Revenues in the January-March period rose by 21% from last year at constant exchange rates to 365.5 million euros ($439.22 million), compared with 361 million euros expected on average by analysts, according to a Refinitiv consensus.

"Moncler produced a smaller beat to the +19% consensus expectations, growing in all regions worldwide versus full-year 2019 – with the notable exception of Europe. The fact is not overly surprising, considering that Moncler is less globally developed than larger peers", analysts at Bernstein said.

Sales jumped by 53% in Asia in the quarter, boosted in particular by China and Korea, and grew 34% in the Americas, while remaining weak in Italy and the rest of Europe.

Moncler's rebound in the first quarter follows the recent notable results by other luxury groups like LVMH, Kering and Hermes, signalling a comeback for the sector after the unprecedented fall in sales due to the pandemic.

"We suffered more than other groups from our exposure to Europe," where lockdown measures continued for much of the first quarter, Chief Corporate Officer Luciano Santel told analysts in a post-results conference call. Europe and Middle East accounted for around a quarter of total revenues in the first three months of the year; they were a third of total sales one year ago.

($1 = 0.8322 euros)

(Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, editing by Giulia Segreti and Marguerita Choy)