LOS ANGELES — Opening new stores, growing denim sales and shifting sourcing operations for tighter controls are among the key initiatives driving Guess Inc. sales growth this year, company officials said during the annual shareholder meeting Tuesday.

The maker of young contemporary sportswear finished 2004 with sales rising 14.6 percent to $729.3 million, propelled by growth in men’s, accessories and the company’s new higher-end Marciano line, carried in five stand-alone stores as well as in Guess retail locations. It also launched its Guess Accessories concept in six locations.

Marciano and Guess accessories are “ahead of plan,” said Maurice Marciano, who shares co-chairman and co-chief executive officer titles with his brother, Paul. He didn’t specify sales figures for those businesses during the meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel here.

Net income in 2004 more than tripled to $29.6 million, or 66 cents a share, compared with $7.3 million, or 17 cents a share, last year. Gross margins rose to 37.6 percent, versus 34.6 percent last year.

In its effort to hit $1 billion in sales by next year, Maurice Marciano said Guess plans to exert more control over its sourcing operation with the opening two months ago of its Hong Kong office, employing almost 60 people.

The firm plans to open 24 Guess stores in 2005. The Marciano concept will add seven stores, including locations in Canada and a flagship at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, set to make its debut July 15. Guess is still in test mode with Marciano, determining the best store size and product mix.

Five new Guess Accessories stores will open in the U.S. next year, as will 45 licensed units outside of the country.

On the licensing front, Guess has signed a shoe license with Marc Fisher LLC to develop a footwear line under the Guess brand, shipping in the second half of the year. Previously, the footwear was under license to Charles David. It also plans to add $100 million in revenue in 2005 from the purchase of its European jeanswear license that closed in January.

Also, shareholders elected Maurice Marciano and Alex Yemenidjian, former chairman and ceo of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, to three-year terms on the board.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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