Prada is Relying on Men's Fashion for Growth

Italian luxury fashion group Prada is pinning its hopes on men's growing taste for finely-cut suits and leather bags to drive a pick up in sales growth in the coming years. The 101-year-old brand said on Wednesday it aimed to almost double menswear sales to $2.1 billion over three to five years, and open more dedicated men's shops. Along with other store openings and an increase in production capacity, the company told analysts and investors it expected the expansion of its menswear business to help return it to double-digit sales growth by 2016.

While luxury sales remain predominantly to women, the market for men is growing more rapidly. Prada, whose menswear business made around 800 million euros of sales last year, said it would open 50 dedicated men's stores from 2014-2016, added to the 30 it currently has. The company reported 2013 sales up 9 percent. Net profit, however, rose less than 1 percent and dropped 13 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter amid a broader slowdown in the luxury sector as once voracious demand in China cooled.

Prada, which regularly mixes men and women on the catwalk for its fashion shows, said group like-for-like sales growth was about 7 percent last year and stayed at that level in the fourth quarter, in contrast with luxury peers such as Gucci and Tod's whose sales weakened later in the year. Having rapidly expanded its retail network since its 2011 listing, Prada now plans to invest up to 450 million euros this year in projects including 80 new shops and four new industrial plants which should open by the end of next year.