STEFANEL CUTS 1ST-HALF LOSS, CREDITS RESTRUCTURING PLAN

MILAN — Stefanel SpA, the Veneto, Italy-based sportswear manufacturer, said Thursday it cut its losses in the first half to $2.7 million (4.7 billion lire) from 19.3 billion lire a year ago.
Stefanel attributed the improvement to the restructuring plan started two years ago, which it said has nearly been completed. Looking ahead, Stefanel said it expects to break even by the end of the year and return to profitability in 1998.
Stefanel, whose activities include production and distribution of Calvin Klein’s CK young sportswear line for Europe and the Mideast under a joint venture with the U.S. designer, said total sales slipped 1.8 percent to $142.8 million (246.8 billion lire) in the first six months. Stefanel attributed the slight decline to closings of nonstrategic stores, which it said pushed net retail sales down by $11.7 million (20.3 billion lire) to $67.6 million (117 billion lire).
Despite the decline in sales, operating profit rose to $62.5 million (108 billion lire) from a negative operating margin of 11.9 billion lire in the first half of last year.
Stefanel also said it significantly reduced its debts to $101.2 million (174.8 billion lire) from 190.4 billion lire a year ago.
As reported, Stefanel in March opened the first European CK store in Milan, and there are plans to open some 10 more by the end of the year. Stefanel also said it signed an agreement with Joyce Ma in the first half of the year to distribute Stefanel brand apparel in Hong Kong.

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