Designer Prada's core profit up 3 pct in 2009

MILAN, March 29 Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:09pm EDT

MILAN, March 29 (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Prada said 2009 core profit rose 2.8 percent to 290 million euros ($389.8 million), boosted by a rise in more profitable retail sales even as its wholesale business declined.

Prada, whose stylist Miuccia Prada is considered one of the world's most innovative designers, said on Monday its strategy of developing a direct distribution channel had paid off with retail sales rising 14 percent in the year.

Wholesale turnover to U.S. department stores fell.

Prada, which earlier this year denied it was in talks to sell a stake to Richemont (CFR.VX), said the results were particularly good when considered in the context of the global economic crisis.

It said net debt had fallen to 485 million euros at the end of 2009 from 555 million a year earlier.

French luxury group Hermes (HRMS.PA) last week turned in a 3.1 percent rise in operating profit for 2009. [ID:nLDE62O02L] (Reporting by Jo Winterbottom; Editing by David Holmes) ($1=.7439 Euro)

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