By  on February 18, 2009

MILAN — Benetton Group SpA said Tuesday that earnings rose 7 percent in 2008, despite a slowdown in fourth-quarter revenues, and that it planned “radical actions” to ease mounting pressures on margins, including closing a factory near Turin.

For the 12 months through Dec. 31, the Italian clothing retailer reported unaudited net profits of 155 million euros, or $228.1 million, on revenues that gained 4 percent to 2.13 billion euros, or $3.13 billion. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization increased 5.1 percent to 353 million euros, or $519.4 million, or 16.6 percent of revenues. The figures were in line with forecasts and a dividend is expected.

Fourth-quarter revenues grew 2.9 percent.

Dollar figures were converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

“The situation in 2009 will be difficult for everyone and this was made quite clear by trends in the fourth quarter of the year just ended,” chief executive officer Gerolamo Caccia Dominioni said.

As a result, he said the company would strengthen its network of sales partners, optimize the industrial and production system “without compromising quality,” reduce structural costs and maintain strict control on capital expenditure.

About 140 employees will be affected by the factory closing, which will take place over the next few months, said a Benetton spokesman.

Benetton’s stock closed down 3.5 percent Tuesday to 5.80 euros, or $7.41.

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