* 2016 sales up 16.4 pct, like-for-like growth 7 pct
* 2016 EBITDA up 22 percent
* Targets 100-125 store openings in 2017 vs 105 in 2016
By Pascale Denis
PARIS, March 30 SMCP, the group behind French
fashion brands Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, reported higher
annual profits and sales, which its chief executive said was
partly due to the allure of Parisian chic for Chinese customers.
"Our brands embody a Parisian chic, both aspirational and
accessible, that seduces Chinese clients," SMCP Chief Executive
Daniel Lalonde told Reuters in an interview.
The French fashion group, controlled by China's Shandong
Ruyi, said 2016 earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 22 percent to 130
million euros ($140 million).
Sales rose by 16.4 percent to 787 million euros.
SMCP operates in what analysts classify as the accessible
luxury segment of the fashion market, and it aims to become a
leader in the more affordable space.
Accessible luxury is benefiting from buoyant demand among a
fast-growing middle class, particularly in countries such as
China, where the group already has 70 stores.
The Sandro, Maje, and Claudine Pierlot labels sell dresses
for between 150-250 euros, and employ supply chain practices
borrowed from retailers such as Zara and H&M.
SMCP's solid 2016 results strike a contrast to rival luxury
brand Michael Kors, which last month reported profit
below market forecasts, raising concerns over Michael Kors'
efforts to reinvigorate its brand.
SMCP's growth in its domestic French market also stood out,
compared with the overall French fashion market, where sales
have declined by 2.6 percent.
International sales, which now account for 54 percent of
SMCP's global turnover, rose by 24 percent.
Similar to other major fashion companies, CEO Lalonde is
also banking on harnessing the Internet and digital media to
spur sales growth.
SMCP, which opened 105 new stores in 2016, plans to open
100-125 more shops this year in major cities around the world.
($1 = 0.9271 euros)
(Reporting by Pascale Denis; Writing by Dominique Vidalon;
Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Louise Heavens)