2021 Resilience: Finance

2021 Resilience: Finance

THE WHAT If ever there was a test designed to sort the wheat from the chaff, it was 2020. Some emerged from the pandemic’s salient year bigger and better (looking at you Amazon, LVMH), others, not so much. Indeed, 2021’s results provided an instant litmus test into the health of a given company after 2020 had done its worst. From Q1, we could see those who were bouncing back bigger and better and, in contrast, those who were still struggling.

THE DETAILS LVMH was very much in the former camp with net profit up 62 percent in the first half of fiscal 2021, versus the same period in 2019 after Q2 revenue rose 14 percent versus 2019 figures. Even CFO Jean Jacques Guiony professed surprise, exclaiming, “We are coming out of the crisis with remarkable levels of profitability.” Q3 was no different; the French luxury goods conglomerate beat analyst expectations so it’s no wonder CEO Bernard Arnault surpassed Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to take the title of the world’s richest person mid-year.

And talking Amazon, if there was one business designed for a lockdown, it was the US e-commerce behemoth. Throughout 2020, we turned to the platform for our daily necessities and, in early 2021, it looked like the habit had proven hard to break.

While we’re on the subject of digital giants, The Hut Group was another 2021 winner.  Fresh off booming sales for FY2020, the company upped its 2021 sales growth forecast to 30-35 percent from the previous 20-25 percent range. The beauty division alone has pulled in sales of £460.8 million in the first half of fiscal 2021, with group revenue up 44.7 percent.

L’Oréal also posted an ‘exceptional’ second quarter with growth returning to pre-pandemic levels – H1 2021 sales were up 6.6 percent versus the first half of 2019 – a trend continued in the third quarter with sales up 14.9 percent like-for-like compared to the same period in 2019.

Similarly, at L’Occitane, Q2 net sales were up 7 percent on pre-pandemic levels (+11.4 percent versus the prior-year period), and, with a global restructure in progress that has seen many US stores close and a consultant network launched, the company is well placed to continue the trajectory.

Certainly, the direct sales model has helped Natura &Co’s sales – with double digit growth reported in both Q1 and Q2. CEO Roberto Marques explained that digital and social selling have helped mitigate losses caused by store closures and social distancing measures.