Philippe Benacin, you just confirmed a revenue target of €480 million for 2019.
One year ago we announced that tensions in certain markets could lead to slower growth. And despite the tendency of markets to consider these forecasts overly cautious, we just confirmed that this figure of €480 million will not be exceeded.
And so are you still expecting a satisfactory performance for 2019?
First, sales at this level represent growth of slightly more than 5%. This in no way seems like an insignificant achievement, even if in recent years our rate of growth has been higher.
Secondly, this growth is accompanied by an excellent performance in terms of profitability, significantly exceeding expectations with an operating margin slightly above 14%.
And in terms of business achievements?
From this point of view the year was even better, with three major launches on track with or exceeding targets.
The launch of Lanvin's new A girl in Capri got off to a very encouraging start, meeting our expectations.
The new men's fragrance, Jimmy Choo Urban Hero, also met with very positive market interest and offers a perfect fit with the development strategy for Jimmy Choo fragrances.
Finally, with billings of slightly more than €40 million, Montblanc Explorer has proven to be Interparfums' most successful launch ever, establishing Montblanc's position as a strong men's fragrance brand. Furthermore, this was achieved without impacting the Montblanc Legend line.
Why then were forecasts for 2020 considered so conservative?
Probably because markets have gotten accustomed to our strong pace of growth in recent years. However, under no circumstances should this be considered a normal benchmark… A target of €500 million represents growth of slightly more than 4%. I naturally understand how this level of growth might generate less enthusiasm than double-digit gains, and from a personal perspective, I might even share that view. Nevertheless, I do not believe that this in any way constitutes an unfavorable signal… Current market conditions are challenging and our strategy has always been to focus on building long-term positions. I do not consider a growth rate slightly below our usual level a cause for concern within the framework of this long-term approach.
Does this mean you consider the reaction of financial markets unfair?
The question is not whether market reactions were unfair… When market expectations are not met, the share price suffers. This is the way financial markets behave which we accept. I wish simply to emphasize that while the company might not have met targets reflecting figures extrapolated by the financial community, the targets set by Interparfums itself were clearly met…
So this means that you remain confident?
More than ever! Our brand portfolio has consistently demonstrated from one year to the next its quality and growth potential. The fact that some years are likely to register faster growth than others in no way diminishes my confidence.