ALBERTO-CULVER PROFITS: Alberto-Culver Co. said strong results from its Sally and Beauty Systems Group businesses drove double-digit bottom- and top-line gains in the third quarter. For the three months ended June 30, the Melrose Park, Ill.-based beauty company reported a 20.9 percent increase in net income to $51.5 million, or 56 cents a diluted share. Excluding special items, earnings would have been $50.8 million, or 55 cents, which beat the Wall Street estimate by a penny. Last year, by comparison, Alberto-Culver had profits of $42.6 million, or 47 cents. Sales for the quarter advanced 11.8 percent to $823.2 million from $736.1 million a year ago. Overall, for the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company recorded earnings of $93.8 million, or $1.02, a 19.4 percent decrease from last year’s profits of $116.4 million, or $1.29. However, excluding charges, net income would have climbed 19.7 percent to $139.4 million, or $1.52. Sales for the period increased 12.5 percent to $2.41 billion from $2.14 billion a year ago.

GUCCI PLANT: In September, Gucci will open a plant near Pisa, Italy, that will specialize in the tanning and production of French calfskin for its ultratrendy accessories. The 72,260-square-foot space is going into operation after Gucci formed Blutonic, a joint venture created in June 2001 with two Florentine leathergoods specialists. The company, in which Gucci has a 51 percent stake, was established to monitor the supplies of raw materials and costs and to treat high-end materials. The facility will churn out 300,000 pieces of leather annually. Gucci foresees a similar venue, slated to bow by yearend, for exotic hides such as alligator, crocodile, python and ostrich.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.