Group sales, of which hair salon and selective retail channels account for almost half, reached €10.9 billion, including a 6.4 per cent underlying rise.
The upward trend in the professional products division (products for hair salons) was strengthened in particular by new launches including Redken for Men and the continuing development of Matrix.
The luxury products division also achieved good like-for-like sales growth at 6.9 per cent up to €2,517 million to the end of September.
But sales growth in western Europe remained low, fuelling fears that the European cosmetics market may be saturated. Compared to a 7.8 per cent rise in like-for-like sales in North America, and a 19.6 per cent jump in emerging markets, they grew just 1.2 per cent in western Europe over the nine-month period.
Western Europe accounts for 50 per cent of sales in L'Oreal's cosmetics arm, while the rest of the world represents just 20 per cent. The French market continues to be difficult for the consumer products division although the company said it had made 'encouraging market share gains' in the last few months.
Strong advances have also been made in the United Kingdom, Spain and the Nordic countries, it said, with good growth in sales from the luxury products division in these markets, thanks to Hypnôse from Lancôme, the revamping of Aquasource from Biotherm and the launch of Armani Mania, said L'Oreal.
Chief executive and chairman Lindsay Owen-Jones maintained his forecast of pre-tax profit growth in double-digits for 2004.
"At the end of September the increase in our sales, reflecting the same trends as the first half-year, is in line with out expectations," he said. "The sales growth achieved means we can confirm our full-year results targets."