(source: news.yahoo.com) ===== PPR Post 7.9% Growth in 1st Quarter; Luxury Biz Up 19% Godfrey Deeny Mon May 1, 6:00 PM ET Fashion Wire Daily - Paris - PPR, owner of luxury's third largest conglomerate, Gucci Group, announced 7.9% growth in sales in the 1st quarter of 2006, powered by international expansion and strong consumption in France. Sales advanced to €4.433 billion ($5.45 billion at current exchange rates) in the first three months of this year, up from €4.108 billion a year earlier, PPR said Thursday. Breaking down the turnover into PPR's two main divisions: luxury sales blossomed 19% to €847 million ($1.042 billion), while the retail division improved 5.6% to €3.593 billion ($4.419 billion). Under French stock market regulations, companies are not required to issue profit and loss figures with quarterly results, so publicly quoted PPR's did not provide any. "The Group's performance in the first quarter of 2006 confirms the strong growth dynamics of our businesses. Higher sales in Retail reflect our international expansion and benefit from sustained household consumption in France. In Luxury Goods, once again, all our brands posted strong growth across all markets," said PPR's Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. The Gucci Group posted double-digit growth in all geographical areas, including Japan (up 13.6%). The house of Gucci alone scored 17.7% growth, as the brand benefited from "excellent sales performance by the 2006 spring-summer ready-to-wear collection" and a sales boom in the Asia-Pacific region. Sales by Bottega Veneta rose a remarkable 77%, "driven both by the development of accessories and ready-to-wear and by the brand's growing profile with clients and the media," PPR said in the release. Yves Saint Laurent posted growth of 8.0%, confirming keen consumer reaction to the collections designed by Stefano Pilati. In another positive sign, sales in YSL's directly operated stores grew 15.5%. However, the group's perfume and beauty division continues to lag. YSL Beauté inched up a miserly 0.7%, as it announced a relaunch plan aimed at reviving competitiveness. PPR provided no information on its "other brands" - jeweler Boucheron, shoemaker Sergio Rossi, pen-maker Bedat and Co and fashion houses Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, other than to say that "the success of the collections…illustrates the group's strong creativity and sales performance," i.e., not exactly a ringing endorsement. PPR's larger, though less sexy, retail division controls department store chain Printemps, cultural supermarket FNAC and home products chain Conforama. In the best news, e-commerce business advanced a whopping 31.2% across the division in the opening quarter. Sales in France grew 3.1%, above the national average, while international sales advanced 5.6% to €1.6 billion ($1.968 billion). PPR, formerly Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, boasts approximately 84,000 employees in 74 countries, posting sales of EUR 17.8 billion ($21.8 billion) in 2005. Copyright © 2006 Fashion Wire Daily. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Fashion Wire Daily content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Fashion Wire Daily. Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.