Richemont, the maker of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels brands, has today posted a 5% increase in quarterly sales led by strong growth at its jewellery brands in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. 

Luxury watches sales have contracted sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the jewellery category led by Richemont's Cartier brand has fared better, motivating LVMH's recent acquisition of US jeweller Tiffany. 

Richemont, the world's second biggest luxury group behind LVMH, said sales at constant exchange rates grew 5% in the company's third quarter, while sales at current rates rose 1% to €4.19 billion. 

The Geneva-based group did not give an outlook. 

The company said it had seen strong growth in Asia Pacific with China up 80%, while Dubai in the Middle East had benefited from resumed tourist spending.

Europe declined 20%, hit by the absence of tourism and store closures, and the Americas stagnated. 

Jewellery brands Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels posted 14% growth, while watch brands were down 4%. 

"Richemont's Christmas quarter was clearly ahead of expectations, which was mainly due to strong growth in Jewellery Maisons, which is also the main earnings contributor," Vontobel analyst Rene Weber said. 

Kepler Cheuvreux's Jon Cox said declines in Europe were also less than feared. "There is clearly an appetite for luxury given pent-up demand," he said.