Rapid growth in Asia and aggressive retail expansion fuelled record revenues of EUR1.43bn (US$1.73bn) in fiscal 2005 for fashion and luxury goods powerhouse The Armani Group.

Consolidated net revenues rose 10% for the year ending 31 December 2005, while EBITDA was up 10% to EUR263m and EBIT increased 18% to EUR191m.

The strong figures came at the end of a year which saw Armani open 41 new stores around the world, the launch of the Giorgio Armani Privé couture collection and a new joint venture for the worldwide expansion of the A/X Armani Exchange brand.

Mother brand Giorgio Armani posted sales growth of 5%, Armani Collezioni was up 12%, Emporio Armani increased 8% and Armani Jeans rose 9%.

The company said Greater China now represented 3% of wholesale revenues, thanks to rapid expansion with 35 stores and 28 shop-in-shops by the end of the year.

Globally, direct retail sales were up 9%, with the highlights a 24% hike for China, an 11% rise in Japan, and increases of 10% in the EU and 3% in the US.

"In this record-breaking year for the Armani Group, we have many achievements to celebrate," said Giorgio Armani, president and chief executive.

"With nearly EUR5bn in retail sales, one of the world's most powerful brand names, significant internal resources to fund organic growth and a clear vision for expansion based on a uniquely successful multi-brand fashion and lifestyle strategy, we can look forward to the future with great optimism and confidence."