By  on July 30, 2007

Wolford, known for its black lace, is seeing green.

Holger Dahmen, chairman and chief executive officer of the luxury lingerie, legwear and bodywear company, met with U.S. managers and sales teams on Thursday at Christie's Auction House here to disclose yearly figures, numbers that he was pleased to share.

For the second consecutive year, the Bregenz, Austria-based firm's sales and profits were on the upswing in fiscal 2006-2007. The company reported sales of 141.7 million euros, or $194.7 million at current exchange, a 16.7 percent increase from last year. Wolford said net profit for the fiscal year ended April 30 increased 84 percent to 6.4 million euros or $8.7 million. In the 2004-2005 fiscal year, the company lost 4.7 million euros, or $6.4 million.

Dahmen also outlined his retail growth plan, which includes organizing the brand's franchise distribution, expanding ready-to-wear looks and opening more Wolford boutiques.

"I attribute our sales increase to two major things," he said. "One, is that we're increasing our product portfolio, such as with ready-to-wear. In the last one-and-a-half years, we've put more dresses and coats into our assortment. Ready-to-wear showed a growth of 18 percent. Also, when we look at the distribution of major growth, it was in our monobrand distribution. We grew by 16.7 percent this year and our biggest growth rate came from our own stores. The U.S. in particular is an area of tremendous growth, 36 percent in terms

of dollars."

Wolford's future wasn't always so bright. The 58-year-old company has weathered financial ups and downs. In 1999, Wolford peaked with sales of 143 million euros, or $196 million, before taking a nosedive five years later under former ceo Fritz Hummer. Dahmen said the rapid decline occurred because of a combination of factors, including disorganized leadership, unclear growth strategies and unattractive collections. In 2004, sales bottomed out at 80 million euros, or $110 million.

Dahmen took over in January 2004, after leaving Hamilton Worldwide, a Swatch-controlled watch company, and began turning around the company by streamlining distribution and intensifying branding efforts. He hired Antonio Berardi as creative director, who lasted less than a year, and then Celine's Ronald Van der Kemp to improve Wolford's style quotient.

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