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Hugo Boss bullish about growth

Hugo Boss Group predicts a return to growth before the end of 2010 due to a strong performance by its retail division and improved pre-orders for autumn 10.

The menswear group, which is owned by private-equity company Permira, said the restructure and expansion of its directly-owned stores over 2009 against a generally improved market led to a 25% increase in sales to €83m (£71.8) over the first quarter of the year.

But overall group sales fell from €484m (£419m) over the same period last year to €444m (£384m) as the wholesale division, still feeling the effects of the recession, reduced pre-orders for spring 10. Wholesale sales were down 17% on the previous year but the group maintained that sales for the new season are more positive.

Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, chairman and chief executive of the group managing board, said it had “taken advantage” of the difficult conditions to exploit potential growth areas more effectively. He added: “On this basis and on the basis of the development in pre-orders for fall/winter, we are confident that 2010 will be a year of growth again for Hugo Boss.”

Overall, sales in European markets were down by 12% over the period to €305m (£264.4m) compared to €348m (£301.6m) in the same period last year. By contrast sales rose in North America, by 2% on a Euro basis to €59m(£51m)  and by 3% in Asia-Pacific to €48m (£41.5m).

The group, which is based in Metzingen, Germany, added that sales single-digit sales growth is anticipated for the year as a whole.

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