By  on April 3, 2008

PARIS — Boosted by retail expansion and market share gains in women's wear, French retailer Groupe Galeries Lafayette on Wednesday said profits rose 22 percent last year and revealed plans to launch its first online flagship.

Net profits for the group — which includes the Galeries Lafayette, BHV, Monoprix and Laser businesses — reached 256 million euros, or $350.9 million at average exchange, in the year ended Dec. 31 from 210 million euros, or $287.9 million, the previous 12 months. As reported, sales rose 6.5 percent to 4.96 billion euros, or $6.8 billion. Operating margins increased 8.7 percent.

The group's new watch division, which includes the Louis Pion-Royal Quartz business, also was cited as a driving force behind the increase in sales. Galeries Lafayette department stores, which count a total of 62 stores including its sprawling Boulevard Haussmann flagship, also increased their operating margin by 7.9 percent versus 7.2 percent a year earlier.

The department store said it would make its e-commerce debut April 21 with a pilot online store, which will sell more than 3,000 articles, including fashion and accessories. The site officially will launch in September, boasting a three-hour delivery service within Paris and a 24-hour delivery time within Europe.

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