French luxury and retail group Kering sees sales rise just 1 per cent as Puma struggles

PARIS – Kering says revenues rose 1 per cent in the first quarter of the year, unusually little growth for the French luxury and retail group whose Puma brand is struggling amid Europe’s economic crisis.

The company, which is in the process of changing its name from PPR, has weathered the financial crisis well, as luxury brands like Gucci and Bottega Veneta prove impervious to recession. It has also sold off some retail labels.

But it has hopes for a turnaround at Puma, which appointed a new chief executive this month.

Kering said Thursday that its sales from continuing operations rose to 2.4 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in the January-to-March quarter, just off analyst expectations.

Sales at Puma were down 4.8 per cent. They grew 4.5 per cent, by contrast, in the luxury division.