By  on May 31, 2007

MILAN — Aeffe SpA saw higher profits and sales in the first quarter as it gears up to go public later this year.

Net profits for the quarter ended March 31 rose 77.3 percent to 5 million euros, or $6.6 million. Double-digit sales increases in ready-to-wear and accessories pushed revenues up 12 percent to 87.1 million euros, or $114.1 million.

Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at average exchange rates.

"These numbers confirm the positive trend that we experienced in full-year 2006," Aeffe chairman Massimo Ferretti told WWD in a phone interview. "We are exactly on track with our growth plans."

Ferretti said Aeffe plans to list about 35 percent of its shares on the Milan stock market by the end of summer. Aeffe wants to be in a better financial position for potential acquisitions, although nothing imminent is in the pipeline, said the executive, brother of designer Alberta Ferretti. The company also wants to take advantage of the visibility the stock market offers.

"We want to finance the growth of the company but above all accelerate it," he said.

Aeffe said cost containment fueled a 65.4 percent jump in first-quarter operating profits to 12.7 million euros, or $16.6 million.

The Italian company owns the Alberta Ferretti, Moschino and Pollini brands, which collectively posted first-quarter sales growth of 15.4 percent. Aeffe also produces the Jean Paul Gaultier collection through a licensing deal. Overall, sales growth was particularly swift in the United States and Europe.

Net financial debt at Aeffe totaled 118.6 million euros, or $155 million, at the end of March compared to 136.4 million euros, or $178.7 million, a year earlier.

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