BERLIN — The Douglas Perfumery chain plans to open 40 new doors primarily in eastern Europe this year.

In 2002, Douglas opened 11 doors in Spain, seven in France, seven in Italy, six in Poland and three in Hungary. The 756-door chain currently operates 424 doors in Germany; 72 in Holland; 9 in Switzerland; 32 in Austria; 85 in Italy; 45 in France; 40 in Spain; 7 in Portugal; 4 in Monaco; 12 in the U.S.; 15 in Russia; 7 in Poland, and 4 in Hungary. Eastern Europe, however, is now seen as having the greatest growth potential, the company said at the Douglas Group’s annual financial press conference in Düsseldorf on Wednesday.

Douglas already released both Group and perfumery division sales figures in January. As previously reported, sales for the perfumeries rose 3.6 percent to $1.3 billion, but on a same-store basis were down 0.3 percent. The perfumery division’s earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation were $162.6 million, down 0.7 percent. The EBITDA for the group was down 7.8 percent to $220.8 million.

First-quarter sales for the Group, which also includes fashion, sport, jewelry and book retail operations were down 3.3 percent. However, comparison sales included Easter business, which this year falls in the second quarter, the company pointed out. Douglas did not release a sales figure nor break down sales by division.

At the annual shareholders’ meeting in June, the Douglas board will suggest shifting to a financial year ending Sept. 30, rather than reporting on a calendar year basis. This would place the Christmas season in the first quarter, "allowing earlier and more precise statements concerning the expected development of the business year," the company said.

However, given uncertain consumer behavior, especially in Germany, Douglas said it is "not possible to make a serious prognosis concerning sales and profit developments" for the year ahead. All divisions, however, are prepared for another difficult retail year, the company said.

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