PARIS (Reuters) – L’Oréal reported on Thursday a 9.4% increase in its comparable sales in the first quarter, above expectations, and while the sector was worried about a slowdown in the United States, the main beauty market.

The French cosmetics giant, owner of the Maybelline and Lancôme brands, posted a turnover of 11.24 billion euros for the three months to the end of March.

Analysts were expecting an increase of 6.1%, according to a consensus published by Jefferies. In published data, quarterly revenue growth stood at 8.3%.

“In a context still marked by economic and geopolitical tensions, we are optimistic about the prospects of the beauty market, and confident in our ability to outperform it again to achieve another year of growth in turnover and results “, declared the group’s general director, Nicolas Hieronimus, in a press release.

This growth should reassure the market following pessimistic comments from US beauty retailer Ulta Beauty earlier this month regarding a bigger-than-expected slowdown in the US.

These comments then caused L’Oréal’s shares to fall by around 4% and put pressure on the American cosmetics brands Elf Beauty, Coty and Estee Lauder.

In a press release, L’Oréal specifies that it has recorded an increase in its comparable turnover of 12.6% in Europe and 12.3% in North America, its consumer ranges and its dermatological products having compensated for the weakness of luxury segment.

The company says it has benefited from increased volumes and unit value, with strong demand in Europe and emerging markets.

It is in North America that the makeup market has slowed the most, although perfumes are doing very well, Nicolas Hieronimus explained during a conference call.

North Asia posted a turnover down 1.1% over the period, still penalized by travel retail, but China recorded an increase of 6.2%.

Performance in China in the first quarter was well above sectoral growth of 1%, said Nicolas Hieronimus. However, the group does not expect a major improvement in consumer confidence in the country.

L’Oréal therefore intends to take better advantage of opportunities in Europe, in emerging markets and by gaining share in North America, added the group’s CEO.

(Report by Mimosa Spencer and Dominique Patton, written by Kate Entringer)

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