Retail and rough diamond sales up at Harry Winston

Harry Winston has said that despite receiving notes of interest from buyers it is not in active negotiations.

Asian retail market rockets with sales up 200% on last year.

Retail and rough diamond sales were up in the fourth quarter at Harry Winston as the luxury jeweller achieved higher rough prices and cashed in on a booming Asian market.

Consolidated sales at Harry Winston rose 13 percent to US$133.7 million (£88.1 million) from US$118.4 million (£78 million) in the comparable quarter of the prior year.

Retail sales in the fourth quarter rose 4 percent year on year to US$70.2 million (£46.3 million). Harry Winston said that the US market continued to be weak but this was offset by the strength of the Asian market. Retail sales in Asia, excluding Japan, jumped 200 percent year on year in the quarter and now represent 18 percent of total sales.

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Rough diamond sales in the fourth quarter jumped 24 percent on the previous year to US$63.5 million (£41.96 million), resulting from a 12 percent increase in rough diamond prices and an 11 percent increase in volume of carats sold.

Despite the uplift in sales, rough diamond production at Harry Winston dropped significantly to 1.6 million carats in the fourth quarter, down from 2.6 million carats in the same period last year. Harry Winston said that the slowdown was a planned reaction to the soft diamond market earlier in the year.

Harry Winston chairman and chief executive Robert Gannicott said: "We end the year with a quarter that reflects recovery in both the rough diamond and jewellery businesses, but in a diamond business significantly changed from the years before the downturn.

“Prior to the downturn, diamond mine production was at extreme capacity and is not capable of returning to those levels, at least in the near-term. Rough diamond prices have already reacted and are back near the peaks of mid-2008. We anticipate further price increases as recovery in the US, and probably later in Europe, is added to ongoing growth in demand from China and India.”

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