Hermes, the producer of the famous Birkin and Kelly handbags, has weathered the storm of the coronavirus crisis in good shape. Sales fell by 7.7 percent in the first quarter to $1.63 billion, a much smaller decline than the 12 percent fall that had been expected.
And as a possible portent of things to come, the company’s flagship store in Guangzhou, China, reported $2.7 million in sales on its first day of reopening.
The company has also won a legal battle in Japan to protect its trademark. A handbag company in Osaka had started trading as D. Kelly, an allusion to Princess Grace of Monaco, the former Grace Kelly, after whom the first Hermes handbag was named – unofficially at first – in the 1950s, having originally been launched as the “Sac à dépêches” 20 years earlier.
A ‘Kelly’ bag sells for more than $8,500 and counts for a significant proportion of Hermes’ total revenue. The illustration is of a Kelly II, which was launched in 2000.