French cosmetics maker L'Oreal said sales growth has accelerated to the fastest pace in almost three years as shoppers spent more on luxury perfume and distributors stopped cutting inventories.
Quarterly revenue rose 7.4 percent on a like-for-like basis to 4.72 billion euros ($6.35 billion), the company said in a statement. "We are absolutely determined to get back to growth this year," Chief Executive Jean-Paul Agon told analysts on a conference call, adding that L'Oreal was aiming for "good organic growth and a good increase in our results" in 2010.
"The first quarter was very encouraging as it marks a clear return to growth, even though the figures must be seen in the context of a weak comparison base, and continuing uncertainties in some markets," Agon said, adding that he expected the market to rise 3 percent to 4 percent this year.
L'Oreal, which sells Garnier shampoo and Vichy facial creams, was expected to benefit from having kept its advertising spending high throughout the downturn and introducing more accessibly priced creams and hair products.
The company said that there had been a "clear rebound" in its luxury products and professional products divisions. The luxury products, which were severely hit by the spending slump last year, achieved an 11.8 percent rise in like-for-like sales in the first quarter, L'Oreal said, adding that consumer products, the biggest division, achieved a 6.9 percent rise.