Luxury still in vogue as PPR sales rise

Thousand-pound python skin Gucci handbags can be added to the list of things that remain popular despite the economic gloom.

They helped PPR, the French group behind designer brands Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent as well as Gucci, to yesterday post an 11 per cent rise in sales to €12.2bn (£10.2bn) in 2011. Profit was up 2 per cent at €986m.

The strength of luxury brands offset weaker performance in some of PPR's retail operations, like French music and games seller Fnac, and catalogue group Redcats, which owns La Redoute.

PPR is in the process of jettisoning Redcats and plans to sell Fnac next. It wants to focus on upmarket brands, and last year bought men's luxury tailor Brioni.

Also yesterday PPR set out plans for a new executive board which is to include Patrizio di Marco, the boss of Gucci; Marco Bizzarri, the chief executive of Bottega Veneta and Puma's boss Franz Koch.

The company added that the sale of Redcats was progressing, with several private-equity buyers interested, but Jean-Francois Palus, the deputy chief executive, added: "There is no urgency. What is important are the conditions under which the transaction will be made."