PARIS — France’s Groupe Clarins announced first-quarter net sales of $245.7 million, up 0.4 percent. On a like-for-like basis, sales would have increased by 8.1 percent.

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

The group’s beauty division, including the Clarins’ signature makeup and skin care lines, saw sales spike 2.6 percent year-on-year to reach $158.7 million, while the fragrance division’s sales were up 0.5 percent to $78.7 million.

Excluding the effects of currency fluctuation, sales would have gained 9.6 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.

However, the group’s couture division, which Clarins has proposed to shut, suffered a 29.9 percent drop in sales, to $8.26 million last year.

Currency fluctuations had a negative impact of 7.7 percentage points in the period.

As reported, Groupe Clarins registered 2002 net sales of $990.3 million, a rise of 6.1 percent year-on-year. The group’s operating profit for the period increased 8.9 percent to $93.9 million, while net profits were up 55.1 percent to $63.9 million.

In 2002, sales of the group’s beauty division increased by 4.4 percent to $582.8 million, while its fragrance division’s business was up 11.7 percent to $375.8 million. Total cosmetics sales rose 7.1 percent to $958.6 million, and the group’s couture division saw sales drop 17.5 percent to $31.7 million.

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