Fiscal-year operating profit at French luxury-goods group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA plunged 20 per cent in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the US the company said today.

It said in a statement that 2001 turnover, which incorporates that of LVMH posted earlier, rose to 12.2 billion euros from 11.6 billion in 2000.

Sales in its haute couture division rose 18 per cent to 350 million euros after 296 million a year ago. The Luis Vuitton line, carrying new products designed by Marc Jacobs, saw sales grow by 9 per cent compared to the previous year. The company said production constraints hindered progress in the early part of the year, then began to improve as new capacity came on stream.

In the fourth quarter period, revenue slipped 4 per cent to 3.54 billion euros from 3.69 billion euros. The company said this was due to "a dramatic decline in travel-related sales, and the growing weakness of the yen." 

While tourist-driven markets were weak, sales to local consumers in the US, Western Europe and Japan continued to grow, the company said.

It added that the "economic environment would likely remain difficult during the first half of 2002," but expects a "substantial rebound in operating profit for 2002."