By  on September 18, 2008

MILAN — Despite the economic malaise, Prada SpA is optimistic for the remainder of 2008 — although it said Thursday that it won’t list until the financial markets recover.

That means the company’s stock market tease is likely to continue for a ninth year.

The Italian fashion group, which owns the Prada, Miu Miu, Car Shoe and Church’s brands, registered decent growth in the first six months of the year. Prada chairman and chief executive officer Patrizio Bertelli said Thursday preliminary first-half retail sales on a like-for-like basis and at constant exchange were up 11 percent, buoyed by gains at the Prada and Miu Miu brands.

Sales of the group’s eponymous label gained 10 percent, while Miu Miu increased 19 percent. Including new openings and at constant exchange, retail sales grew 15 percent at Prada and 44 percent at Miu Miu. Bertelli did not mention the Car Shoe and Church’s brands.

“We’re looking at [the second half] with due caution given the performance of the markets, continuing our strict commitment to maintain retail sales growth, our selective wholesale policy consistent with the strategic lines of the group, as well as reaching a level of profitability for the whole of 2008 superior to the previous year,” Bertelli said.

“The board has just confirmed that the Bourse continues to be our objective. Prada is ready for the listing, but naturally not until the financial markets return to normal,” he added.

Prada has called off an IPO three times in the last eight years, citing market volatility. The company said in March it planned to list in either June or November but that any decision would be subject to market conditions.

Also Thursday, Bertelli said the group would continue to expand its retail network with 10 new Prada and 10 new Miu Miu stores in cities including Madrid; London; Paris; Berlin; Munich; Athens; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Shenzhen and Kaoshiung in Taiwan; Hiroshima, Japan; Melbourne, Australia; Honolulu, and New York.

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