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Michael Kors shares slide 16 percent as European stores struggle

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By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) – Michael Kors <KORS.N> shares slumped 16 percent on Wednesday as the fashion group missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue, hurt by lower sales at its stores in Europe, where it is struggling to create a stronger luxury identity.

Kors has been stocking fewer of its signature handbags in its European stores, a move it says is aimed at creating scarcity and driving more full-price sales of its label in a region where fashion consumers have long sought products from Louis Vuitton owner LVMH <LVMH.PA> or Gucci parent Kering <PRTP.PA>.

But revenue from Kors’ stores in France, Germany and other parts of Europe fell nearly 10 percent during the quarter ended September, causing overall retail revenue of $643.9 million to fall short of analysts’ estimates by roughly $17 million.

Kors cut overall inventories by 11 percent, which Chief Executive Officer John Idol said was “a little aggressive” given stronger than anticipated demand for its new line of designer handbags.

“We need to get in a better inventory position,” Idol said on a conference call with analysts. “We believe we’re going to be there for (the quarter ending December), but it will be more towards the tail end.”

Still, consumer interest in the Michael Kors brand among European consumers is lacking, Bernstein analyst Jamie Merriman said, citing social media and Google trends data.

“You’re still seeing pressure from a little bit of over exposure of the brand and you haven’t seen a bounce back in consumer interest yet,” Merriman said.

Kors is trying to target rich Europeans by acquiring smaller but established labels as consumer passion for its eponymous brand cools. It is spending over $2 billion to buy Italian luxury designer Versace in a deal announced September.

Revenue from Jimmy Choo, the British luxury shoe brand bought by Kors last year, also missed expectations. It underscored concerns that Kors was still facing trouble attracting younger consumers to Jimmy Choo, a brand made popular in the 1990s by Princess Diana and “Sex and the City.”

Kors’ overall revenue rose 9.3 percent to $1.25 billion in the quarter ended September, missing analysts’ expectations of $1.26 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. The miss was the first since the quarter that ended December 2016.

Net income attributable to Kors fell 37 percent to $137.6 million. [nBw5Scd0la]

Excluding items, the company earned $1.27 per share, above analysts’ estimates of $1.10.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Sweta Singh)

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