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Hermes reports record annual profits

Birkin bags on shelf Image copyright Getty Images

Luxury goods group Hermes has reported record profits for 2016, boosted by sales of its handbags.

The French company, best known for its £8,000 Birkin bags and £300 silk scarves, posted a 13% rise in profits to 1.1bn euros (£952m).

Chief executive Axel Dumas said Hermes did "better than expected" last year and was entering 2017 on a "solid base".

However, he said he remained cautious given the "uncertain environment".

The results hint at a wider recovery in the luxury goods market. Last month, its French rival LVMH reported record sales.

Hermes said sales of its leather goods and saddlery, which account for half of the group's sales, rose by 14%, aided by the success of the Constance, Halzan, Lindy, Birkin and Kelly bags.

Silk and textile sales, which earlier in the year were affected by terror attacks in Europe and slowing sales in China, picked up towards the end of 2016. They ended the year 1% lower.

Perfume sales rose by 9%, helped by the launch of new fragrances. However, watch sales slipped 3%, "penalised by a still challenging market" and a high comparison basis at year-end.

Hermes said it would continue with its long-term development strategy.

"In the medium term, despite growing economic, geopolitical and monetary uncertainties around the world, the group confirms an ambitious target of growth rate for revenue at constant exchange rates," it added.

Shares in Hermes slipped 2.45 euros to 426 euros, but have risen more than a third in the past 12 months.

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