BERLIN — The 767-door Douglas Perfumery chain bucked the going trend and grew sales 5.1 percent to $628.3 million, or 529 million euros, in the first half of 2003. On a same-space basis, sales grew 0.2 percent. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange.

The more than 400 Douglas doors in Germany increased sales 1.2 percent, while outside of Germany, sales rose 12.1 percent.

Profits before interest, taxes and depreciation for the Douglas Group, which also includes fashion, book, candy and jewelry retail operations, reached last year’s level of $48.8 million, or 43.2 million euros. Profit figures for the perfumery division were not released.

Chairman Henning Kreke said longer store hours, which have already led to 10 to 15 percent increases in Saturday sales, should help to maintain Douglas’ positive momentum

The company’s shareholders have approved a change in Douglas’ fiscal year, which will now run from Oct. 1, 2002 to Sept. 9. For this period, Douglas is forecasting flat sales and operating profits. The company pointed out that the new fiscal year would not include the 2003 Christmas season, the period in which the company traditionally generates all of its profit. Christmas will now fall in the first quarter of the fiscal year ending in September 2004.

— Melissa Drier

Beiersdorf Results

The strong euro hampered Beiersdorf cosmed-division sales in the first half of 2003 1.6 percent to $1.8 billion, or 1.62 billion euros, although sales for the period rose 4.5 percent at constant exchange rates. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange.

Cosmed earnings before interest and taxes for the period reached $247.5 million, or 219 million euros, down 2.8 percent from $255.4 million, or 226 million euros.

Beiersdorf said cosmed sales were down in Germany, Russia and the U.S. Elsewhere in Europe, as well as Africa, Asia and Australia, sales grew significantly, the company said without releasing specific figures.

Nivea remained the motor of sales, increasing sales 9.8 percent when adjusted for currency effects, followed by Labello which grew currency-adjusted sales of 5.8 percent.For the year ahead, Beiersdorf is projecting group sales growth of 5 percent on a currency-adjusted basis, and an EBIT return on sales of 10 percent. Net profits are expected to remain at about 6 percent of sales.

The Hamburg-based group said it expects sales in Germany to remain weak, but said the outlook for economic developments in the American market for the second half “remain positive.”

Beiersdorf remained silent on recent reports that the firm is interested in acquiring SSL International plc, a British health care group that owns Durex condoms. A source close to the company said SSL’s product ranges were not in with Beiersdorf’s medical product range.

— M.D.

More Allou Woes

New York — Federal prosecutors on Tuesday indicted eight people, including three former top executives of bankrupt Allou Healthcare Inc., in connection with a fire at the firm’s Brooklyn warehouse last September that destroyed much of Allou’s inventory. The former executives who were arrested on fraud charges were Victor Jacobs, chairman, and his sons, Herman, Jacob and Ari. Of the three sons, only Herman and Jacob were officers of the company. As reported, turnaround expert Richard Sebastiao in late April fired the executives, although they retained their board positions. The three Jacobs family members are the controlling stockholders of Allou. Allou, as reported, was forced into bankruptcy in April after its lenders — Congress Financial Corp., Citibank and LaSalle Business Credit Inc. — filed an involuntary Chapter 11 petition against the firm in April. The three forced Allou into a Brooklyn bankruptcy court after discovering that the beauty distributor’s assets and inventory were insufficient to satisfy their claims, which total at least $67.7 million.

— Vicki M. Young

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