PARIS — Galeries Lafayette reported it broke even on the bottom line last year — no profit, no loss — compared with a net profit of 69 million francs a year ago.
Operating profits for the year dropped 74 percent, to $9.2 million (54 million francs) at current exchange rates, down from 209 million francs in 1992. But the yearend figure is a vast improvement over the operating loss of $47.1 million (275 million francs) that Galeries incurred the first half of last year.
As reported, consolidated sales for the retail group fell 6.3 percent last year to $5.03 billion (29.4 billion francs).
The company said the sales measures taken since last fall helped “stop the deterioration of profitability, but without permitting a return to a satisfying annual profit level.” With ongoing restructuring, first-quarter sales this year are up “slightly,” the company said.
The company said it is continuing to work on integrating the Nouvelles Galeries chain, which was fully acquired in 1992, into the group. This includes transforming Nouvelles stores into Galeries units.
Last year, six stores were converted and remodeled, resulting in sales increases in each case. This year, five more Nouvelles stores are on the agenda. The 33 remaining, smaller Nouvelles stores are likely to stay as they are. Economies of scale between the two groups are also being achieved in operations, logistics and telecommunications.
Earlier this month, Galeries, through a division which owns the Cap 3000 shopping center near Nice, did a $102.7 million (600 million francs) convertible bond offering, which will help the yearend balance sheet, the company said. The bond offering reflected a change in strategy from last year, when Galeries said it wanted to sell the center outright.