Luxury goods group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced that consolidated sales in the first quarter of 2001 reached 2,745m Euros, an increase of approximately 12 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2000.

Sales within the Fashion & Leather Group were very strong, coming in a t 18 per cent, despite the impact of production capacity constraints at Louis Vuitton Malletier.

Commenting on these results, Myron Ullman, group managing director, said: "The year 2001 is off to a good start for LVMH, even with slower economic conditions in the US and Japan that have had an impact on certain areas of our business. Our first quarter results demonstrate the Group's resilience based on a strategy centered on balanced geographical diversification and the quality of our brands. Our priorities this year are driving internal growth and developing our brands in order to increase their market share."

Brands within the Fashion and Leather business group continue to grow. Louis Vuitton continues to see strong growth in demand for its products. Sales have been limited by capacity constraints, which Louis Vuitton is currently addressing by increasing its production at new sites such as St. Florence and constructing new workshops at Ducey, for example.

Other brands continue to make good progress with strong performances from Kenzo and Loewe. Fendi, consolidated in the Group's accounts since July 2000, and Kenzo, improved control over their distribution in Japan through the creation of joint ventures in which they hold majority stakes.

Selective Distribution sales increased by 15 per cent compared to the first quarter of last year, with varied performances among the business group's companies.

The Paris department store Le Bon Marche had solid sales growth and once again increased its market share.

LVMH maintains its objective of achieving double-digit growth in both sales and operating income in 2001.