PPR First-Quarter Sales Rise 5.0%, Ahead of Forecasts

French fashion-to-furniture retailer PPR reported a forecast-beating 5.0% rise in first-quarter sales as a pick up in its African distribution business added to growth in its luxury brands.

The owner of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent and France's Conforama home-furnishing and Fnac books and music chains said sales in the three months to March 31 rose to 4.447 billion euros ($6.07 billion) from 4.235 billion a year ago.

Stripping out the impact of currency moves and changes in the group's structure, sales grew 5.6% led by a 17.6% rise in its African CFAO distribution business.

Sales at the Gucci Group luxury division were up a comparable 15.9% at 937 million euros, above the average in a Reuters analyst poll for 927 million.

PPR shares closed 0.5% higher on Wednesday at 127.57 euros before the news.

The shares have risen 12% since the start of the year, underperforming the Dow Jones Stoxx retail index, of which they are a component, by 2.5%.

In contrast, PPR shares have outperformed the Stoxx personal and household goods index, which includes luxury rivals such as LVMH and the German sporting goods firm Puma that PPR is attempting to buy.