PARIS – Luxury leather goods powered PPR’s fourth-quarter performance, with Gucci Group sales up 15.3 percent to 1.0383 billion euros, or $1.33 billion at current exchange.

Yves Saint Laurent gained traction with such hot handbags as the “Downtown,” contributing to a 22.3 percent gain in the fourth quarter, while the core Gucci brand’s momentum increased in the three months ended Dec. 31, with sales up 14.8 percent and strong double-digit gains across ready-to-wear, shoes, watches and leather goods.

Still, the French conglomerate continues to be plagued with anemic sales at its retail division, which slipped 0.5 percent at constant exchange in the quarter to 4.3364 billion euros, or $5.55 billion. PPR blamed adverse weather and sluggish spending in Italy and France for the poor performance.

Overall, group sales in the quarter gained 3.2 percent to 5.3744 billion euros, or $6.88 billion based on average exchange rates.

PPR highlighted strong growth in luxury across most geographic regions, including Japan, where fourth-quarter sales gained 10.9 percent at constant exchange rates. However, owing to a weak yen, reported sales lost 0.6 percent in Japan. Gucci Group sales in North America rose 17.8 percent to 216.3 million euros, or $276.9 million, in the quarter.

“All the luxury goods brands continued to outperform their markets,” Francois-Henri Pinault, PPR’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in statement. “Our retail companies are holding up well in a challenging enviroment.”

For complete coverage see tomorrow’s issue of WWD.

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