Luxury watches add to Bulgari’s strong half-year

Luxury watches were a driver of the Bulgari Group’s “excellent” 2006 half-year results, which saw net profits increase 53.3 percent to $56.1 million, the company said Wednesday.

Total sales for the Rome-based company rose 15.1 percent to $566 million, while operating profit rose 36.9 percent to $66.6 million.

Its watch segment provided “a particularly positive performance,” said the report, growing 17.9 percent to $162 million for the half-year, benefiting from the success of “the new interpretation of the BVLGARI collection.”

The Group’s jewelry sector, its core business, had a 9.9 percent gain for the half year to $227 million and a 12 percent rise for perfumes, to $99.3 million.

Regionally, sales growth in Japan remained “very strong” (up 30.9 percent), followed by Middle East /Other (up 21.3 percent), Europe, excluding Italy (up 21.3 percent), and the Americas, primarily the United States (up 10.6 percent). Italy alone had a 7.4 percent gain, thanks partly to good sales results in the Bulgari-owned stores. However, the Far East, excluding Japan, dropped 8.3 percent.

Based on the half-year results, Francesco Trapani, chief executive officer of the Bulgari Group, said he was confident that—in anticipation of a good sales performance in the year-end holiday season and barring an extraordinary events—the Bulgari Group could end 2006 with 10 percent growth.

The Bulgari Group is a major player in the global luxury market. It ended 2005 with a turnover of more than $1.1 billion and a net profit of $147.1 million. Its distribution network includes more than 200 stores worldwide and selected distributors. Its product portfolio contains jewelry, watches, accessories and perfumes. The Group is controlled by the Bulgari family, which hold about 52 percent of capital shares.