The top European luxury companies with a significant women’s fashion component, ranked by 2002 sales

Some of the most important luxury firms reside in Europe. As everyone knows by now, 2002 was a bruising year for many companies selling upscale goods. The repercussions of 9/11 were still being felt in travel, and consumers reined in their spending as a result of the sluggish global economy. For some companies on this list the problems were more organic and the result of design or strategic business decisions. But many firms were buoyed by leather goods — blockbuster handbags with waiting lists for the luckiest. The forecast now seems more upbeat, with luxury consumers warming to the idea of doing what they do best — spending money.

2002 sales: $3.26 billion
Apparel is estimated to account for 3 percent of Louis Vuitton’s 2002 sales, or $97 million. The brand, which continues to weather the economic storm, was up 15 percent in Japan in yen. In North America, Vuitton is up 15 percent in dollars. Much of the credit goes to new products such as the blockbuster leather collection designed by Takashi Murakami and Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs, which is expected to ring up sales of $345 million this year.

2002 sales: $2 billion (estimate)
Karl Lagerfeld has been designing for Chanel for 20 years, but he never seems to get bored. The house is a perennial favorite among fashion editors. The company’s management, however, is entering a transition phase. Maureen Chiquet, former president of Banana Republic, was named president-elect. She’ll assume the post in January 2005, after Arie Kopelman, Chanel’s president and chief operating officer, relinquishes his crown.

2002 sales: $1.83 billion
The designer has diversified into a number of brands but for the most part they all mean the same thing: Armani. Armani Collezioni and Emporio Armani are the biggest generators of wholesale revenue, each accounting for 19 percent of the total, while the signature Giorgio Armani line accounts for 16 percent. Clothing makes up 51 percent of revenue, while perfumes and fragrances account for 25 percent.
2002 sales: $1.67 billion
The Gucci division’s women’s and men’s ready-to-wear tallied up $236 million last year. Leather goods accounted for 48.2 percent of total sales, or $806.7 million. The Gucci brand’s revenue dropped 9.6 percent in 2002 amid tough economic times. Complicating matters, the brand had a merchandise mix that was too upmarket and expensive. The company has since backtracked and introduced cheaper logo items into stores to drive sales.

2002 sales: $1.4 billion
Prada and its second line Miu Miu together generated $1.4 billion in revenue in 2002. Miu Miu itself generated $125.2 million. The bulk comes from accessories. Together the two lines generated $459 million in apparel sales. Despite challenging economic times, Prada is pushing ahead in terms of retail. Earlier this year, it opened the doors of its $83 million Epicenter concept store in Tokyo.

2002 sales: $1.35 billion
Ready-to-wear accounts for only $187 million of Hermès total 2002 sales, which managed only a 1.3 percent increase over the previous year’s $1.34 billion. The company blamed the weakness of the dollar and the yen on the shortfall. Excluding currency fluctuations, sales for the year moved ahead 5.9 percent. The company is set to unveil the first ready-to-wear line designed by Jean Paul Gaultier in the spring.

2002 sales: $1.19 billion
This secretive fashion company, one of Italy’s biggest, has plenty to talk about. For starters, it is branching out into accessories, launching a fragrance and bringing its edgier younger brand Max & Co. to the American market. It is also spicing up its Marina Rinaldi line for plus-sized women. Other in-house brands include Sportmax, Marella and Pennyblack.

2002 sales: $973.5 million***
Sales of women’s wear in 2002 rose 19.8 percent to $324.6 million from $270.9 million, while total sales increased 18.9 percent from $818.7 million. Burberry opened 12 new and refurbished locations during the year, including four stores in the U.S., three in Europe and one in Asia. The company in May relaunched its Thomas Burberry label in the U.K. The October 2002 opening of amegastore on 57th Street marked a milestone in the company’s retail strategy.9 ESCADA
2002 sales: $840.6 million*
Of the total $840.6 million in sales for the Escada Group, the Escada brand rang up sales of $510.9 million. The German fashion house in the past year has rejuvenated its collection and corporate identity. In addition, the company opened Badgley Mischka bridal boutiques inside its Fifth Avenue and San Francisco flagships. Despite strong orders for the fall and spring, Escada said it will not reach its profit targets for 2003.

2002 sales: $636.2 million
Salvatore Ferragamo saw its 2002 sales drop 8.75 percent, citing challenging market conditions. But back in April, chief executive Ferruccio Ferragamo said the company was forging ahead with plans this year to invest about $54 million in new stores, including flagships in Tokyo’s Ginza district and New York’s Fifth Avenue, which opened this month. The goal is to have 195 directly controlled stores by the end of 2003.

2002 sales: $589 million**
Wholesale revenue includes the Dolce & Gabbana brand and the younger D&G line. Since Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce produced their first collection in 1986, the duo have become a force to be reckoned with in the fashion world. The designers are becoming increasingly involved in directly overseeing the growth of D&G, which is manufactured by licensee IT Holding.

2002 sales: $534.9 million
Fueled by John Galliano’s runway spectacles, Christian Dior continues to outpace many of its competitors. Sales for Christian Dior Couture, which includes couture, ready-to-wear and accessories by Galliano and fine jewelry by Victoire de Castellane, leapt 41 percent in 2002. The brand opened 28 new doors in 2002 including 10 in Europe and six in Japan. The Christian Dior fashion house aims to generate $1 billion in volume through a global network of 210 stores by 2007.

2002 sales: $524.9 million
Versace had a tough year in 2002 when consolidated revenue dropped 5.4 percent. The company also posted a net loss of $6.3 million. Chief executive Santo Versace and his sister Donatella have announced a broad plan to boost efficiencies and bolster management with its new board member,Luxottica chief Leonardo Del Vecchio. Versace has also managed to develop new lines like Versus, Versace Jeans Couture, Versace Classic and Versace Sport.14 FENDI
2002 sales: $250.5 million (estimate)***
Fendi does not break out financial figures, because it is majority-owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, but sources estimate the fashion house had a net loss of $18.9 million last year on sales of $250.5 million, and debt of $189.1 million. All in all, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton paid a presumed $1.11 billion for 84.1 percent of Fendi. The company has said it will break even next year.

15 Yves Saint Laurent
2002 sales: $158.7 million
Sales of Yves Saint Laurent ready-to-wear in 2002 were $88.1 million, with the remaining volume generated by leather goods, shoes, other accessories and royalties. Tom Ford, Gucci Group creative director, has introduced a new look for stores and fashion. According to the company, YSL is on track to turn profitable in late 2004 and in full-year 2005.

SOURCE: COMPANY REPORTS. * Fiscal year ends Oct. 31 .** Fiscal year ends March 31. ***Dollar figures converted from the euro at the exchange rate listed at the time results were reported

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