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US Demand Boosts L'Oreal Fourth-Quarter Sales, China Weighs

By Donna Ahern
US Demand Boosts L'Oreal Fourth-Quarter Sales, China Weighs

L'Oreal posted 8.1% sales growth in the fourth quarter, a touch slower than in the previous three months, with firm demand in the United States and Europe helping to offset the dent from coronavirus disruptions in China.

The cosmetics company, which sells Maybelline mascara and CeraVe skincare, recorded sales for the last three month of 2022 of €10.3 billion ($11.1 billion), in line with analyst expectations, according to Refinitiv data.

The 8.1% growth rate for the three months to end-December compared with a 9.1% increase in sales in the third quarter.

Revenues 

Overall revenues were boosted by 9.4% like-for-like growth in the United States and 8.1% growth in Europe, although the company said it saw a 'drastic slowdown' in China in the second half of the year.

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"Overall, the market there (in China) was very, very difficult with lockdowns -- sometimes even e-commerce didn't work because deliverers could not access homes,"  Nicolas Hieronimus, chief executive, L'Oreal said.

Business in December in the country - one of the fastest- growing markets for cosmetics - was "very bad" as COVID-19 cases surged, and January "started in the same vein," he said, though things improved in early February after curbs were relaxed.

The executive predicted the first quarter will be "a bit soft still" but from the second quarter the cosmetics company - which has gained a market share of more than 30% in the high-segment thanks to the popularity of its Lancome, YSL and Kiehl's labels - will likely have "good Chinese business."

Positive Figures 

By contrast January figures for the United States were "very positive," Hieronimus said. "Overall the (US) market is dynamic and remains dynamic."

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Luxury and cosmetics companies including Richemont, LVMH and Burberry, have all seen business affected by disruptions in China, prompting Estee Lauder Cos Inc to forecast a bigger drop in full-year profit than it had initially estimated.

L'Oreal raised prices towards the end of the second half and focused on launching new, more expensive products, partly offsetting higher input costs.

The fastest growth came from the division selling skincare labels CeraVe and La Roche-Posay, up 19.4% over the quarter while the luxury division posted 5.5% growth.

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more A-brand news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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