BERLIN — Ongoing challenges in China and the U.S. curbed fourth-quarter sales and earnings performance at Hugo Boss, despite strong momentum in the European market.

In preliminary figures released today, Boss reported group operating profit (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization before special items) of 171 million euros, or $187.3 million, a gain of 2 percent. This was slightly below expectations, the Metzingen-based group noted.

Dollar figures are converted at an average exchange rate for the period to which they refer.

Sales for the quarter ending Dec. 31 were up 10 percent to 750 million euros, or $821.7 million. In currency adjusted terms, sales grew 5 percent. In Europe, sales gained 10 percent, driven by the company’s own stores as well as wholesale. The U.K. and Southern Europe showing particular strength.

In the Americas, sales fell 1 percent in local currencies, with the U.S. market seeing a continued low-double-digit decline. Most Asian markets generated gains, but due to a double-digit slide in China, sales in Asia as a whole fell 7 percent in local currency.

For the year, profit before taxes dropped 4 percent to 419 million euros, or $465.3 million. Operating profit rose 1 percent to 594 million euros, or $695.6 million, which was below the latest Boss forecast of a 3 to 5 percent gain. This had been based on at least stable retail comparable sales in the fourth quarter, the group pointed out, which instead declined by 1 percent in the quarter.

Group sales for the year rose 9 percent to 2.81 billion euros, or $3.12 billion. In local currencies, group sales gained 3 percent, with European revenues up 6 percent. Sales in the Americas slipped 1 and 3 percent in Asia, in currency-adjusted terms. Own retail grew 15 percent (7 percent currency-adjusted), with online generating a double-digit increase, while the wholesale channel was down 3 percent, excluding currency effects. Women’s wear sales exceeded the Group average, Boss said, with the women’s Boss core brand achieving double-digit gains.

Chief executive officer Claus-Dietrich Lahrs said the group continues “to experience strong momentum in Europe despite rising political uncertainties in the region.” For the year ahead, the group will particularly concentrate on implementing an omnichannel business model, and will take decisive action, he said, to improve business in China and the U.S.

Final fourth-quarter and full-year results will be published on March 10.

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