BEVERLY HILLS — Guess Inc. executives were upbeat about the denim and sportswear company’s financial health during the annual shareholders’ meeting Monday at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Guess president and chief operating officer Carlos Alberini said during the meeting, which lasted less than 30 minutes, “This was our best year ever for the company.” In addition to paying the first dividend in its 25-year history in March, Guess cleared the debt for its North American business, which has more than $200 million in cash, he said.
Chief executive officer and vice chairman Paul Marciano added that the company opened 21 of its new accessories-focused concept store, G by Guess, in the last four months.
Guess continues to shift focus to retail from wholesale. The company acknowledged that its inventory increased to 90 from 80 days as a result of opening more stores and absorbing inventory from recent acquisitions, including the purchase of controlling interest in the Italian and Spanish licensees that produce its Guess by Marciano contemporary brand.
Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which owns 80 Guess shares, protested in front of the hotel at Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Drive. A PETA representative initially planned to read a statement about animal cruelty in the fur industry at the meeting. Instead, Marciano said he met with David Benjamin, the group’s director of corporate affairs. “They have a very valid point,” Marciano said.
However, as a casual lifestyle brand, Guess mainly uses fake fur, and real fur accounts for less than 1 percent of its styles, he said. “They wanted to talk to us more about the profile and name we have,” Marciano said.