MILAN — Valentino Fashion Group SpA posted a double-digit jump in first-quarter net profits on swifter sales of its Valentino and Hugo Boss brands.

Net profits for the three months ended March 31 rose 28.1 percent, to 41.5 million euros, or $49.8 million. Sales for the period advanced 13.5 percent, to 588.5 million euros, or $706.2 million.

All euro figures have been converted from dollars at average exchange rates for the period.

Valentino Fashion Group was formed when Marzotto SpA spun off its fashion assets into a new entity and listed it on the Milan Stock Exchange last July. Since the company didn’t exist in its current form in the first quarter of last year, 2005 comparative figures are pro forma.

Antonio Favrin, Valentino FG’s president, said the company is drawing up a strategic growth plan, although he’s not ready to disclose specifics. But he did say he wants to double the value of the company in five years.

“There is still a lot of work to do,” Favrin said, speaking on the sidelines of a shareholders’ meeting to approve Valentino’s full-year 2005 numbers. Marzotto bought a money-losing Valentino in 2002 and has since returned it to profitability on an operating level.

Sales at Hugo Boss rose 13 percent to 458.9 million euros, or $550.7 million, while earnings before interest and taxes advanced 13.5 percent, to 87.2 million euros, or $104.6 million.

At Valentino, EBIT rose 35.5 percent, to 10.3 million euros, or $12.4 million, while revenue rose 20 percent, to 62.8 million euros, or $75.4 million.

Valentino FG’s consolidated operating profit rose 16.6 percent, to 103 million euros, or $123.6 million.

The firm said investments caused a drop in free cash flow for the period to 23.4 million euros, or $28.1 million, from 30.7 million euros, or $36.8 million, in the first quarter of 2005. Favrin said Valentino plans to open 30 stores in the next two years at a cost of 25 million euros, or $32 million. Hugo Boss will spend upward of 40 million euros, or $51 million, to open 50 stores this year, Favrin said.

On a geographic basis, Valentino FG’s sales advanced 11.8 percent in Europe, to 420.4 million euros, or $504.5 million. Sales in the Americas gained 23.3 percent to 90.1 million euros, or $108.1 million, while those in Asia increased 16.3 percent, to 53.4 million euros, or $64.1 million.

This story first appeared in the May 12, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company cut its net financial debt to 310.1 million euros, or $372.1 million, from 392 million euros, or $470.4 million, as of the end of March 2005.