MILAN — Despite continuing uncertainty in the market, Safilo Group SpA posted a gain in net profits to 18.4 million euros, or $25 million, in the first quarter, compared with 1.7 million euros, or $2.3 million, from the same period the year before thanks to lower financial expenses and tax rates.



For the first three months ended Mar. 31, the Italian eyewear manufacturer had net sales of 300.7 million euros, or $408.9 million, up 5.1 percent from the first quarter of 2010.


Dollar amounts have been converted at average exchange for the periods to which they refer.


Safilo produces for major luxury brands including Alexander McQueen, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent, among others, and mentioned there had been promising results from the first collections of newly licensed brands Tommy Hilfiger and Boss Orange.


“Our unique brand portfolio, enriched by the new January 2011 collections, was the engine behind the new business opportunities that we tackled in order to continue to stretch our reach and presence in the marketplace,” said the group’s chief executive officer, Roberto Vedovotto.


Operating profit (earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT) jumped 30.2 percent to 31.4 million euros, or $42.7 million in the quarter while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was at 40.7 million euros, or $55.3 million, up 17.6 percent.


The group underlined the contribution of mounting demand for medium- to high-end sunglasses in areas such as Asia and the Americas to the group’s core business, citing particular growth potential in China and Korea.


Additionally, positive signs were registered by Safilo’s own stable of businesses, including house brand Carrera and retail arm Solstice, which posted a 5.7 percent growth in comp sales with regards to the first quarter of 2010.


As of Mar. 31, Safilo had reduced its net debt to 268.2 million euros, or $364.7 million, compared with 315.4 million euros, or $435.2 million from the same time last year.

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