PARIS — French retailer Groupe Galeries Lafayette reported a 17.6 percent rise in net income to 190.4 million euros, or $236.8 million, for the year ended Dec. 31.
Operating income increased 12.1 percent to 319.1 million euros, or $396.9 million, on revenues of 5.63 billion euros, or $7 billion, up 1.9 percent. Dollar figures are at the average exchange rate.
The retailer continues to look for acquisitions. While Galeries co-chairman Philippe Houzé described Neiman Marcus Group Inc., which put itself up for sale last week, as “interesting,” he noted the company is wary of investments in the U.S.
“Consumer habits are very different in America, Europe is much closer and more comprehensible in terms of the needs of our clients,” he said.
Houzé and co-chairman Philippe Lemoine said during a news conference here Friday that sales at the flagship Boulevard Haussmann store in Paris were “particularly dynamic” last year, rising 7.1 percent. The boost was partly because of the opening of two new concepts, Lafayette Maison, a home decor boutique, and Lafayette VO, a streetwear apparel floor. The results were positive despite renovations that made it impossible for the flagship to fully exploit all of its floor space.
The executives said sales in January and February inched up 2.9 percent.
Slated to open at the end of March, the recently renovated women’s fashion department now boasts an area for young designers, an extensive jeans department and luxury brands as well as quirky services such as male models available by appointment as shopping escorts and catwalking lessons.
In addition, the flagship will expand this fall into space acquired from Marks & Spencer. “We will finally benefit from the fruits of the renovations,” Houzé said.
Meanwhile, the retailer said it would hold a board meeting to discuss Credit Mutuel’s purchase of a 15.8 percent stake in the company. The transaction has fueled speculation about a change of control and a possible bid for the business.
Besides its Galeries Lafayette department stores, the group runs BHV stores, Monoprix and a financial services arm.
This story first appeared in the March 21, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.