PARIS — Groupe Clarins reported Friday that its third-quarter net sales hit $204.9 million, a 3.4 percent increase at average exchange rates.

At constant exchange rates and comparable group structure, sales were up 7.3 percent. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

The firm said in a statement that business "picked up sharply" in the third quarter and noted that its cosmetics division benefited from the diversification of the Clarins brand with the introduction of Clarins Men and the U.S. launch of Hugo Boss’ latest men’s scent, Boss In Motion. It also said that its couture division "is still struggling in rather tough market conditions and posted a decrease in net sales of 19.6 percent at constant exchange rates."

The group’s net sales for the first nine months of 2002 were up 3 percent at average exchange rates, to $634.3 million, over the comparable 2001 period. At constant group structure and constant exchange rates, volume would have been up 4.1 percent.

For the nine months, broken down by brand, sales of Clarins were up 1.4 percent to $388.9 million; Thierry Mugler was up 7.1 percent to $115.8 million; Azzaro was up 3.1 percent to $66.1 million, and the group’s fragrance distribution business was up 5.8 percent to $63.4 million. Percentages have been calculated at average exchange rates.

By geographic region, sales in Europe were up 5.2 percent to $391.7 million in the period. Sales in North America were up 3.6 percent to $156.8 million. Asia was down 2.8 percent to $51.1 million, and sales in other markets were down 11.9 percent to $34.4 million.

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