ZURICH Jan 16 (Reuters) - Richemont said retailers in Asia Pacific remained cautious in the three months to December, limiting sales growth in the quarter to 9 percent at constant exchange rates, below forecasts.
"Compared to retail, slower growth in the wholesale channel reflected caution amongst the Group's business partners, primarily in the Asia Pacific region," the Geneva-based company, which makes high-end IWC watches and Cartier jewellery, said in a statement on Thursday.
Sales rose to 2.941 billion euros ($4 billion), short of a forecast for 3.049 billion euros in a Reuters poll. Analysts in the poll expected sales growth at constant exchange rates of 11.9 percent.
Luxury watch makers are grappling with weak demand in China, where the government's fight against illegitimate gifting has hurt sales of Richemont's expensive timepieces more than more affordable watches made by peer Swatch Group. ($1 = 0.7356 euros) (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz)