MILAN — Currency fluctuations bit into Bulgari’s first-quarter sales but the jeweler managed to post an 18.4 percent gain in net profit through cost-containment measures.

Net profit rose to 13.5 million euros from 11.4 million euros a year ago. In dollars, profits were $16.9 million versus $12.2 million. Figures have been converted to dollars at average exchange for the corresponding periods.

Sales shed 1.9 percent to 160.3 million euros, or $200.2 million, but Bulgari said they rose 6 percent at constant exchange rates. Operating profit advanced 16.7 percent to 18.9 million euros, or $23.6 million.

In terms of product categories, jewelry and fragrances fared the best, with sales rising 7.6 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. Revenue from watches dropped 6.1 percent and that from accessories shed 7.4 percent.

“I am particularly pleased with the recovery of the watch sector, as already confirmed by the significant upturn of sales within our stores, as well as by the very good level of the orders received during the latest Basel fair,” Bulgari chief executive officer Francesco Trapani said in a release.

Trapani reiterated a full-year forecast for high single-digit sales volume growth and profit growth that is at a “slightly higher” pace.

By region, Japan was the top performer, with sales growing 16.7 percent. In the Americas sales rose 5.9 percent. Bulgari noted tourist flows to Europe are still weak, though there are signs of recovery in England and Spain. Sales in Italy fell 22.7 percent while those in the rest of Europe shed 5 percent. Sales in Asia excluding Japan fell 5 percent and in the Mideast rose 15.2 percent.

Bulgari said total operating expenses were flat on the year at 81.4 million euros, or $101.7 million, but advertising and promotion expenses rose to 15.9 million euros, or $19.9 million, from 13.9 million euros, or $14.9 million, in the first quarter of last year.

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