PARIS, Feb 12 ­— French cosmetics giant L’Oreal said yesterday that the Covid-19 pandemic impacted sales last year but that its e-commerce efforts helped it limit the drop to the single digits.

With restrictions closing beauty salons and many people working from home, sales in both the professional and consumer segments took a hit, but overall the drop was 6.3 per cent to €28 billion (RM137.3 billion) for the year as a whole.

Meanwhile, net profits at the firm which includes brands such as Maybelline and Redken, slid 5 per cent to 3.6 billion.

“In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic, which spread across the world, triggered a crisis of supply due to the widespread closure of points of sale which led to an unprecedented, if temporary, decline of the beauty market,” chief executive Jean-Paul Agon said in an earnings statement.

“Thanks to its strength in digital and e-commerce, which has again increased considerably during the crisis, L’Oréal has been able to ... compensate to a large extent for the closure of points of sale.”

The company said its online sales shot 62 per cent higher and accounted for a record 26.6 per cent of total sales.

Asia Pacific is now L’Oreal’s biggest region and was the only one to post growth for 2020 overall and during the fourth quarter.

If sales of professional products has largely recovered, dipping by 1.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, consumer products were still down by 6.9 per cent.

Luxury products, L’Oreal’s biggest segment which includes brands such as Lancome and Kiehl’s, returned to growth in the final three months of 2020, climbing by 3.3 per cent to 3.2 billion euros.

Active cosmetics, a segment that includes La Roche-Posay and SkinCeuticals, saw the strongest growth in the fourth quarter, jumping by 20.4 per cent.

Management proposed a dividend of 4.00 euros, an increase of 3.9 per cent. — AFP