By  on September 7, 2006

PARIS – Luxury continues to juice up PPR, the French owner of Gucci Group, which on Thursday said sales of high-end accessories and apparel drove its first-half profits ahead 27 percent.

While profits at the firm’s retail operations expanded a moderate 5.1 percent, PPR chairman Francois-Henri Pinault praised the “impressive” 69.6 percent leap in recurring operating income at Gucci Group in the six months through June 30 as among the best in the industry.

“Luxury has been exceptional,” said Pinault at an early morning meeting with analysts and reporters here. “The retail environment has been challenging.”

The numbers exceeded most analysts’ expectations and came a day after PPR rival LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton reported its first-half profits leapt 46 percent, adding evidence that luxury is breezing forward.

Pinault predicted more smooth sailing on the horizon. He said that despite high comparisons, July and August luxury trading was “extremely satisfying.” He said numbers were in line with objectives and on par with gains logged in the first half. “We remain confident for the second half of the year,” said Pinault.

As reported, PPR first-half sales gained 7.7 percent to 8.29 billion euros, led by a 20 percent gain at Gucci Group. Retail sales gained 5 percent.

For complete coverage see tomorrow's issue of WWD.

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