Groupe Lafuma's turnover improved by 5.8 percent to €169.8 million in 2018, with each division contributing to the growth. The group's operating income jumped by 12.5 percent to €7.1 million.
The management noted that the last year was marked by increased political and economic instability, including the Brexit discussions and the “yellow vest” movement in France, as well by disruptive structural changes in retail trade and rapid changes in consumer behavior.
It said it responded through targeted planned investments, particularly in the clear positioning of its brands, the promotion of innovation, and the adaptation of its distribution channels to the changing behavior of its customers.
Lafuma pointed out that the surf division's strong performance validated its brand strategy for Oxbow, with sales jumping by 6 percent to €28.4 million. The segment's operating contribution amounted to €6.0 million, or 21.2 percent of revenues, up by €0.3 million. The brand opened its first store in Paris in March 2018. E-commerce is an important growth area for the division, which makes about 95 percent of its turnover in France.
With the Lafuma, Millet and Eider brands, the mountain sports division reported a sales hike of 6.0 percent to €101.4 million, and its operating profit jumped by 7.7 percent to €23.2 million. It is the group's leading segment, accounting for 60 percent of the activity. The long winter of the 2017/2018 season helped retailers to clean up their stocks. Sales increased by 8.9 percent in France. In Japan and China, they grew by 19.1 and 26.4 percent, respectively.
Millet grew at a double-digit rate in Japan and China. The Lafuma and Eider brands had a positive development in Europe.
In the furniture division, Lafuma Mobilier performed well. After a lackluster year in 2017, sales for 2018 returned to growth, rising by 5.5 percent to €40.0 million, driven by a 28.7 percent increase in e-commerce. Despite targeted investments in its new markets, marketing and product development, the division posted a slight increase in operating contribution of 0.5 percent to €10.8 million.
For 2019, the management does not see any significant improvement in economic and political conditions and expects that the uncertain environment and the stagnation of its markets will make for another challenging year. The group will focus on its omni-channel distribution, online commerce and international development, as well as its digitalization strategy.
The Lafuma group's relatively good results helped its Swiss-based parent company, Calida Holding, to post a sales increase of 3.9 percent, driven by a 42.2 percent increase in e-commerce. Other retail operations increased by 3.1 percent and wholesale by 4.9 percent.
Including its lingerie business, which grew by only one percent, Calida reached sales of 410 million Swiss francs (€367.2m-$412.0m) for 2018, with growth of 4.1 percent in constant currencies. The group's operating profit rose by 3.7 percent to CHF 21.6 million (€19.3m-$21.7m). Net earnings went up by 5.3 percent to CHF 17.8 million (€15.9m-$17.9m).
Thomas Lustenger, who has been running the group for the past 19 years, will resign at Calida's annual meeting on April 15. The new president will be its vice president, Marco Gadola, who has been a member of the executive board since 2011, responsible for the audit & risk committee.