Mar 8, 2009
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Winter sales go well for shoe maker Geox

Mar 8, 2009

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

MILAN, March 4 (Reuters) - Shoe retailer Geox (GEO.MI) booked a slight rise in its 2008 net profit on higher sales, and the company's chief financial officer said its start-of-year sales had gone "very well", sending its shares higher.

Geox collection Sheila

Like other retailers, Geox -- known for its "no sweat" shoes and which also makes clothing -- began 2009 with the usual winter, promotional sales period.

"January and February are the months of (promotional winter) sales," CFO and Corporate Managing Director Luciano Santel told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"They are less important ... however the sales period for us in our stores went very well," he said

Geox earlier reported a 2008 net profit of 123.4 million euros ($156.1 million), adjusted for non-monetary extraordinary items, from 123 million euros in 2007.

Revenue rose 16 percent to 892.5 million euros and was up 17 percent at constant exchange rates, it said in a statement.

There were no forecasts for 2009.

Founder and Chairman Mario Moretti Polegato told Reuters in the same interview the results were in line with expectations.

In the statement, Polegato said the economic context remained uncertain and difficult for the next few months but orders received for spring/summer 2009 were up by 6 percent.

"This makes us confident," he said.

Geox opened just under 220 stores last year and Santel said the number of openings for this year would be "a little lower".

"The last forecast we made was for about 150 stores, it is however an important number," he said.

Retailers are facing slower consumer demand as the global recession hits hard.

"World markets are weak ... For us the market that is doing better is our domestic market, Italy. We are doing well in Europe, with some markets better than others," Santel said.

"Surely the U.S. market is the most difficult now but our (strength) is that we are still very small in the United States, our business there is still at its beginning."

Geox said it was proposing a dividend of 0.24 euro per share, unchanged from the one paid on 2007 results. Shares closed up 9.99 percent at 4.9 euros. (Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Andrew Macdonald) ($1=.7906 Euro)

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