Benetton third quarter net up on higher sales, sees lower debt

MILAN, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Italian clothing retailer Benetton Group SpA (BNG.MI) turned in a higher third-quarter net profit as deferred sales boosted revenues and said on Thursday 12 November it expected to lower its rising debt by the end of the year.


Benetton, known for its colourful sweaters, said in a statement third-quarter net profit was 56 million euros ($83.98 million) versus 38 million euros a year ago.

Revenues rose 13.1 percent to 609 million euros, boosted by sales that were deferred from the second quarter, a move that had been announced in May.

Nine-month revenue fell 2.8 percent to 1.491 billion euros.

"We expect to confirm revenues for the full year substantially in line with the nine-month trend," Chief Executive Gerolamo Caccia Dominioni said in the statement.

Thanks to higher than expected savings, "we will ensure satisfactory profitability", he said.

By the end of the year cash generation will cut debt to a level below that of December 2008, he said..

At the end of September net debt was 819 million euros. Benetton had net debt of 689 million euros at the end of December.

Budget fashion chains like Spanish retailer Inditex's (ITX.MC) Zara and Sweden's H&M Hennes & Mauritz (HMb.ST) are weathering the economic downturn better than higher-priced rivals.

British clothing and homewares retailer Next (NXT.L) last week posted better than expected third-quarter sales and upgraded its sales and profit guidance for the balance of the year. Benetton shares were up 1.59 percent at 6.725 euros at 1313 GMT. ($1=.6668 euros)

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