Outstanding winter conditions have helped to raise Groupe Lafuma's turnover by 2.1 percent to €83.1 million for the first half of this year, amounting to a rise of 3.5 percent in constant currencies.
With the Lafuma, Millet and Eider brands, the mountain sports division reported a sales hike of 4.3 percent to €38.7 million and its operating profit jumped by 12.8 percent to €6.3 million, aided by winter conditions that left inventories clean. The Lafuma group said that the rise was supported by investments in the sales organization of the mountain sports division, and the international development of the three brands.
Their turnover was up by 12 percent in France, it increased by 15 percent in German-speaking countries and by 22 percent in Western Europe. However, this strong uptick in European sales was offset by a decline of 12 percent in Asia-Pacific and Japan, down by 6 percent in constant currencies.
The group appeared upbeat about the prospects for the division, due to its investments in online sales and digital development, as well as product innovation and the launch of concepts such as Lafuma bags. Another key strategic approach is the group's commitment to the delivery of PFC-free apparel by 2020.
The French company is pursuing international development further for the mountain sports brands, with the opening of Chinese stores and another to open in Osaka, in Japan, in the second half of this year. The Millet brand achieved increased exposure through its partnership with the Austrian Olympic team at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
The outdoor furniture division, driven by the Lafuma brand, saw its sales decline slightly for the half-year, down by 1.4 percent to €30.2 million. The performance was mixed, as the late arrival of the spring put pressure on sales and margins in the first quarter, but the second quarter was more favorable. Among the standouts, the division boasted a 15 percent rise in digital sales.
The surf business reported a sales increase of 3.8 percent to €14.2 million for the six months, but its operating profit remained stable at €3 million. This surf entity chiefly consists of the Oxbow brand, which opened its first store in Paris in March. The division makes about 95 percent of its turnover in France.
The Lafuma group's online sales jumped by 27.6 percent, which helped to raise the share of retail sales to 22 percent, up by two percentage points compared with the same six months in 2017. This retail business includes online sales as well as own stores and outlet stores.
The whole French group improved its gross profit margin but an increase in staff and other costs led to a decline of 21 percent in its operating profit to less than €2.7 million for the six months. Its net profit was nearly halved to just under €2.1 million, down from €4.0 million for the prior-year period. Lafuma confirmed that it was targeting stable sales for the full year, but added that it was projecting a slightly lower operating profit.
In the reporting period the Calida Holding, the majority shareholder of the Lafuma group, raised its stake twice to 87.7 percent. In March, the Swiss company bought 7.6 percent of Lafuma from Jean-Pierre Millet, a long-standing shareholder. Three months later it bought another 8.5 percent from CDC Entreprises Elan PME.
The Calida Group itself reported a sales hike of 10.7 percent to 194.3 million Swiss francs (€167.8m-$196.1m), up by 3.5 percent in constant currencies. Apart from the brands in the Lafuma group, it managed a sales increase of 8.4 percent to CHF 61.4 million for its Calida business. Aubade, the French lingerie brand, suffered a small sales decline of 0.6 percent to €26.7 million. The period was marked by further investment in digital resources and integration. Online sales soared by 60.1 percent in the six months to make up 10.2 percent of the group's sales, up from a share of 7.1 percent in the year-ago period.
The whole Calida group's operating profit (EBIT) amounted to CHF 5.5 million (€4.7m-$5.5m), down slightly from CHF 5.8 million, after investment in marketing, sales and e-commerce. Its net income dipped to CHF 4.4 million (€3.8m-$4.4m), down from CHF 5.9 million.