* Sales set to stop falling in 2017
* China same store sales up 20 pct in Q4
* Online to return to growth in 2017
* Shares up 1.1 pct
(Adds details from presentations)
By Emma Thomasson
BERLIN, March 9 Hugo Boss said on
Thursday that improving its online business will be a top
priority this year as the struggling German fashion house hopes
to avoid another decline in sales and cement a recovery in
The company known for its smart men's suits is in the midst
of restructuring under new boss Mark Langer after his
predecessor Claus-Dietrich Lahrs quit last February as sales
slumped in China and the United States.
Hugo Boss said it expected currency-adjusted sales to be
stable in 2017 after it reported a 4 percent fall in 2016 to
2.69 billion euros ($2.8 bln), with online sales down 9 percent
to 76 million euros, less than 3 percent of the total.
Analysts expect online transactions to represent 20 percent
of all luxury sales within a decade, up from 7-8 percent now.
"Online and retail stores must be more closely linked
together," Hugo Boss's sales chief Bernd Hake told journalists.
The company plans to roll out services like "click and
collect" to stores across Europe by the end of 2017.
Luxury goods group LVMH is planning a new digital
platform to host all of its brands, sources close to the matter
told Reuters on Thursday, as the French company steps up efforts
to capitalise on the sector's online sales boom.
Ecommerce sales at Hugo Boss were disrupted in 2016 by a
move to fulfil orders in Europe itself, instead of via a
partner, and the relaunch of its website, but the company said
they should return to growth during the course of 2017.
It also plans more digital marketing, forecasting it will
spend 70 percent of its budget online and only 30 percent on
print in 2017, compared to a 50-50 split two years ago.
Digital communication had been an important driver of its
recent recovery in China, it said, noting a big jump in
followers on Chinese social media sites WeChat And Weibo in
Hugo Boss has also slashed prices in China to bring them
closer to European and U.S. levels, helping sales there rise by
almost 20 percent on a like-for-like basis in the fourth
Rivals like LVMH, Cartier owner Richemont and
British brand Burberry, have also signalled better
demand in mainland China in recent months as well as improving
tourist spending elsewhere.
Hugo Boss shares, which jumped last month after a report
that Belgium's richest man, Albert Frere, had taken a stake of
nearly 3 percent, were up 1.1 percent by 1159 GMT.
The company said it had saved more than 100 million euros in
costs and investment in 2016 and it would continue to keep a
strict control on expenses in 2017, helped by renegotiated rents
and the closure of loss-making stores.
Hugo Boss said that retail selling space would be stable in
2017, with 10-15 new stores planned, but another 15 closures to
be completed by the end of the year.
($1 = 0.9474 euros)
(Additional reporting by Anneli Palmen in Metzingen; Editing by