PARIS -- Christian Dior Couture SA posted a 3 percent rise in net profit in 1993, to $21.4 million (116 million francs). In 1992, net profit for the fashion house was 113 million francs.

Dior president and controlling shareholder Bernard Arnault told shareholders at its annual meeting that the modest increase was due to lower short-term interest rates and the absence of exceptional foreign exchange gains.

Christian Dior Couture -- which includes haute couture, direct and wholesale ready-to-wear and accessories sales and licensing revenue, but not Parfums Christian Dior -- had a 9 percent rise in consolidated sales, to $149.7 million (811 million francs). Revenues in 1992 came to 748 million francs.

Breaking down turnover into its three main categories, Dior reported that licensing income rose 6.1 percent, to $60.7 million (328.8 million francs); wholesale sales advanced 14.6 percent, to $48.2 million (261 million francs), while retail sales, including couture, improved 7.3 percent, to 41.8 million (226.2 million francs). The company did not provide a separate figure for couture.

Christian Dior SA, the holding company that controls Christian Dior Couture, posted a 9 percent increase in net income, to 161.7 million (876 million francs), earned on a 9.9 percent rise in sales, to $4.5 billion (24.6 billion francs). Christian Dior SA indirectly controls the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, whose sales are consolidated into Dior's accounts.

In a related development, another Arnault holding company, Au Bon Marche, announced it will subscribe to half of a forthcoming capital increase by Dior of around $738 million to $923 million (or roughly 4 billion to 5 billion francs). The planned increase in capital was announced this spring when Arnault reorganized LVMH's relationship with British brewer and spirits company Guinness, in which the luxury group has a 20 percent stake.

In order to finance Au Bon Marche's participation in the Dior capital increase, the company plans to sell leather goods and fashion house Celine to LVMH in September -- the latest shuffle in Arnault's corporate empire. Celine is expected to cost LVMH around $332.3 million (1.8 billion francs).

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