MILAN--Benetton SpA reported earnings for the first half rose 2 percent, while sales were virtually flat against the year ago.
Earnings rose to $64.6 million (100.5 billion lire) from 98.6 billion lire a year earlier. Operating profits fell 8.5 percent to $124 million (193 billion lire) from 221 billion lire.
Sales in the half-year totaled $878 million (1.367 trillion lire), about even with the prior year's 1.362 trillion lire.
Benetton attributed the flat sales pace to its policy of price reductions, with cuts of 6 percent in Italy and 28 percent in Japan, which increased sales volumes and boosted market share but held revenues steady.
The company noted that earnings in the period were stabilized by successful efforts to normalize costs. Benetton added that volume of merchandise produced grew 10 percent over the first half of 1993.
The results come on the heels of last week's news from Benetton that its plans to beef up its operations in the U.S., which had been downsized after the 1987 stock market crash. As reported, Aldo Palmeri, chief executive officer, told a Montgomery Securities investment parley in San Francisco that the chain plans to target 200 megastores--three to five times larger than traditional Benetton stores--in key locations. The chain currently has about 150 stores in the U.S.
--Fairchild News Service

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