Designer Armani expects 2009 profit to fall

Tue Sep 8, 2009 7:10pm EDT
 
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MILAN (Reuters) - Giorgio Armani sees profits falling again this year, emerging as one of the few fashion houses to give an outlook for 2009.

The Italian company, which has been hit by the global luxury spending slump, also said in its 2008 annual report it planned to open shops in Tokyo, Dubai and Berlin among other places this year.

"The first few months of 2009 have not been easy and the forecast for the rest of the year sees a further profit reduction in 2009 versus 2008," Armani, the 75-year-old chairman and founder of the brand, wrote in the report.

Armani, widely regarded as the doyen of Italian fashion, is known for his classically elegant lines and muted colors in clothes.

The company's net profit fall to 128.1 million euros ($184.3 million) last year from 218.7 million euros the year before, the report showed.

"The economic crisis has only slowed down, rather than interrupted the Armani Group's growth," the designer said.

France's Hermes, the maker of 10,000-euro handbags, stands out along Armani as one of a handful of luxury companies giving a forecast for this year.

Hermes expects sales to remain flat at constant exchange rates, with a slight drop in operating margin.

Armani's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 14 percent to 303.2 million euros last year. Revenues edged up 1.5 percent to 1.62 billion euros, boosted by a strong rise in China.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Richard Chang)