MILAN — Cashmere is still king even in a downturn, at least according to Italy’s Brunello Cucinelli SpA.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

On Tuesday, the luxury knitwear and sportswear company forecast 10 percent growth in 2009 sales to 159 million euros, or $216.8 million, after registering a 22.6 percent gain in pretax profits in 2008.

The group also said it plans to roll out eight new stores worldwide this year, taking to 40 its number of monobrand units.

For the 12 months through Dec. 31, pretax profits hit 8.1 million euros, or $11.9 million, on a 19.7 percent sales gain to 144.5 million euros, or $212.6 million.

“Needless to say, we are satisfied with the results obtained in such a difficult period,” Brunello Cucinelli stated, attributing the results to demand for products, which “uphold the values of quality, craftsmanship, creativity, courtesy and simplicity.”

The company did not break out sales by region, although a spokesman said emerging markets more than offset slowing sales in Italy and Europe.

The label, which also counts 1,000 other points of sale, did not disclose the slated locations of the new stores.