Italy's Armani returned to sales growth in 2019

FILE PHOTO: A deliveryman is seen silhouetted in front of Italian luxury brand Giorgio Armani's store at the Wangfujing shopping street, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing, China February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

MILAN (Reuters) - Sales at Italian fashion group Giorgio Armani returned to growth in 2019, a year in advance of its target, after a three-year planned fall from streamlining its distribution and brand portfolio under just three labels.

The luxury group said on Friday it was not yet possible to accurately estimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely hit the whole industry this year but said it had the resources to cope with uncertainties.

Net sales grew 2.3% to 2.158 billion euros ($2.44 billion) last year, thanks primarily to the 7% increase in comparable sales in the directly managed store and e-commerce network.

Overall 2019 revenues, including licences, rose by 9% to 4.157 billion euros.

Earnings before tax declined around 12% to 175 million euros and net earnings totalled 124 million euros.

The group had strong liquidity of 1.2 billion euros at the end of last year compared to 1.3 billion in 2018.

Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi; editing by James Mackenzie