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Prada Pulls Out 7% Sales Gain

<CS:BOLD>MILAN -- Strong December sales offset second-half declines and enabled Prada Group to post a 7 percent sales increase in 2001.<BR><BR>The group said Friday that sales for the year totaled $1.56 billion, compared with $1.46 billion in 2000....

MILAN — Strong December sales offset second-half declines and enabled Prada Group to post a 7 percent sales increase in 2001.

The group said Friday that sales for the year totaled $1.56 billion, compared with $1.46 billion in 2000. Sales were pushed by the Prada and Miu Miu labels, whose combined revenues rose 3 percent, to $1.2 billion, approximately 77 percent of overall volume. (Dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.)

A statement issued by the company said these results were generated by healthy sales in the first eight months of 2001 and during the month of December, and slowed only slightly following the Sept. 11 attacks. In the first half, sales rose 24.9 percent, to nearly $800 million. Although the company didn’t divulge second-half results, calculations — somewhat distorted by currency fluctuations — indicate that sales for the second half of the year declined about 7 percent, to around $760 million.

Prada said earnings information would be available in the next few weeks. As reported, Prada’s sales in 2000 rose 56.6 percent.

Although the second half included a dramatic deceleration of luxury goods consumption even before Sept. 11, Prada was able to report a strengthening of business trends as 2001 drew to a close. The firm said that December sales of Prada and Miu Miu in the U.S. hit $15.6 million, a 22 percent increase, stimulated in part by new stores in New York and Aspen. The U.S. was responsible for about a quarter of corporate revenues last year.

As reported, Prada in December issued bonds valued at $624.1 million as a means to restructure the group’s debt load of $1.16 billion. An initial public offering was put on hold six months ago.

Besides Prada and Miu Miu, Prada Group also owns Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, Genny, Byblos, Carshoe, Azzedine Alaia and Church’s. At the end of November, Patrizio Bertelli, chief executive officer of Prada Group, sold his 25.5 percent stake in Fendi to LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton for about $260 million. Fendi sales were consolidated through Sept. 30.