By  on October 20, 2008

LONDON — Newly acquired businesses and double-digit growth in Europe and the U.S. boosted first-half sales at Tommy Hilfiger Group by 30.5 percent to 755 million euros, or $1.13 billion, from 578.5 million euros, or $867.7 million, the previous year.

All figures have been calculated at an average rate of exchange for the period.

The privately held company posted its first interim sales results under Apax Partners ownership on Monday in order to “underline the progress” of the brand and highlight the success of Tommy Hilfiger’s re-positioning efforts, a company spokesman said.

Revenues from the recently acquired licensees Tommy Hilfiger Footwear Europe and Tommy Hilfiger Japan contributed 16.4 percent of total growth in the six-month period ended Sept. 30, the company said.

In Europe, sales increased 25.9 percent to 390 million euros, or $585 million, from 309.7 million euros, or $464.6 million, with the largest increase coming from wholesale operations, including footwear sales. The retail business saw a 6.2 percent rise in sales, and a 3.4 percent increase on an underlying basis.

Sales in the U.S., meanwhile, climbed 16.7 percent to $356 million from $305 million. (These figures were reported by Hilfiger directly in dollars). At a wholesale level, Hilfiger said the partnership with Macy’s saw “significant growth” compared with last year.

In the U.S., retail store sales grew 15.8 percent, while underlying sales grew 6 percent. The company said a rollout of new full-price and outlet stores in the U.S. is moving ahead.

In Canada, overall sales were 1.9 percent below last year due to the strategic downsizing of the wholesale business, the company said.

Tommy Hilfiger said it saw “very strong” double-digit growth among its licensing partners in Central and South America as well as the rest of Asia. Japan is developing “as expected” and is significantly contributing to the overall growth of the company, the statement said.

In the first half, 50 stores were opened, taking the global number up to more than 850. Fifty percent of those stores are directly owned and operated. The company said its global flagship on Fifth Avenue in New York is on track to open in 2009.

Hilfiger’s planned initial public offering remains on ice. “There is clearly no market for IPOs at present, but the business is well-positioned and continuing to grow,” a spokesman told WWD. “The fashion company will take a view on an IPO when the time is right and markets more stable.”

As reported last month, Fred Gehring, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger, reiterated the company is in no hurry to list, considering the roller-coaster market conditions.

“We would love for the markets to improve, but I don’t think we should be seen as the first one out,” said Gehring. “There is no pressure at all from Apax. We want to see what is happening [in the market] over a prolonged period or cycle.”

While private equity group Apax never officially revealed details of an IPO, last year sources indicated the company was planning to list on Euronext, the pan-European stock exchange. The company put those plans on hold in January in light of volatile market conditions.

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