Hermes boosts production in France

Hermes is hiring workers and investing in French production to meet surging demand for handbags in Asia, boosting the economy as presidential elections highlight the country’s struggle to create jobs.

The Paris-based luxury-goods company is expanding its network of domestic workshops that make bags like the Kelly and Birkin, it said Thursday in reporting quarterly sales that beat estimates. For Hermes, a “made in France” label is an intrinsic part of the appeal of its handbags, which are coveted in Asia and elsewhere as an emblem of French chic.

Hermes, which makes about 85 of its products in France, plans to increase leather-goods output by 8 percent and to hire 250 workers in the country this year. The company said it’s investing in a third workshop in the Franche-Comte region, bringing the total number of domestic leather production sites to 15. Overall, Hermes had 7,881 domestic employees in 2016, or about 60 percent of its total

Hermes last year achieved productivity increases of 15 percent, and it’s targeting 8 percent for 2017. The company needs those kind of gains to meet demand for its handbags, silk ties and other goods in Asia and elsewhere.