French luxury group Chanel has hiked prices of some of its most sought after handbags at a time when strong consumer demand and low stocks in the run-up to the holiday shopping season are boosting their exclusivity.
Privately-owned Chanel, one of the biggest brands in the 280-billion euros ($340 billion) global luxury industry, and rival LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton have weathered the coronavirus crisis better than most other retailers and have raised prices several times to boost their profit margins.
Sales at Chanel fell 17.6% last year, but the core profit margin stood at around 20%, according to analysts, making it one of the most profitable companies in the sector. It said in June it expects revenues to increase by double digits this year compared with their 2019, pre-pandemic levels.
The price of Chanel's Small Classic handbag has gone up by 16% to 7,300 euros ($8,429) since the end of September. The hike, first reported by French news channel BFM TV, was confirmed by Reuters using the Internet Archive, a repository of past web pages.
The price of another popular handbag, the quilted leather 2.55 with a golden chain, was 7,800 euros on Chanel's website last week compared with 6,050 euros in December 2020, an increase of nearly 30%, the Reuters analysis showed.
A spokesman for the group, which is also known for its tweed suits and No. 5 perfume, said in an email that the price increase "only concerns our iconic models, namely the Timeless Classic and the 2.55."
"Like all major luxury brands, we regularly adjust our prices to take into account changes in our production costs and raw material prices, as well as exchange rate fluctuations," the spokesman said, without giving further details.
Price adjustments are made in such a way as to avoid excessive differences between regions, the spokesman added.
In June, Chanel's finance chief had told Reuters that the group had not yet increased prices in 2021, but that this could change in the second half, in line with its policy of reviewing prices worldwide twice a year.