Byline: Kim-Van Dang

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — With a 42.4 percent gain in first-quarter profits on a 33 percent jump in sales already reported, the mood was ebullient at the St. John Knits annual meeting here Thursday.
But chairman and chief executive officer Robert E. Gray remained typically conservative in his forecast.
“We’re growing faster now,” he acknowledged, “but our plan has always been to grow just 20 percent annually.”
In the year ended Oct. 30, 1994, the firm posted net income of $14.9 million, or $1.82 a share, on sales of $128 million.
Gray outlined expansion plans to about 100 shareholders who attended the session, lasting some 30 minutes at the Sutton Place Hotel. International sales are expected to double this year, he said, noting that company sales at the recent Igedo trade show in Dusseldorf doubled. In 1994, the firm’s international sales amounted to $6.4 million.
He also cited the June opening of two more St. John boutiques — in Chicago and Atlanta — bringing the number of company stores to 16.
On the production side, three plants in Irvine, Calif., are being consolidated into one existing 165,000-square-foot complex. The renovation and move, expected to cost $250,000 and to be finished in August, will cut the number of facilities to five from seven but increase overall area by 50,000 square feet.
Within three years, an office and design building will also be constructed on the new site, bringing the number of facilities down to three.