Mainland China sales counter Hong Kong protest hit for Birkin-maker Hermes

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Hermes store in Beijing

PARIS (Reuters) - French luxury handbag maker Hermes <HRMS.PA> said on Wednesday that strong sales growth within mainland China in July and August had helped offset the impact of anti-government protests in Hong Kong on its business within the Greater China region.

The company, known for its $10,000-plus Birkin handbags, had to close stores in Hong Kong, even at the airport, for a number of days over the past two months, dragging on sales there, Financial Director Eric du Halgouet told reporters.

But Hermes' overall performance within Greater China was still in line with strong sales trends in the first two quarters of the year, du Halgouet added, as Hermes reported a rise in net profit and operating income for the first six months of 2019.

"The impact on the Greater China region from Hong Kong ... was offset by the strong activity in mainland China," du Halgouet said.

Hermes said its operating income rose 15% in the first half to 1.14 billion euros ($1.26 billion), while operating margins were just shy of last year's record levels, at 34.8%.

(Reporting by Sarah White and Pascale Denis; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)