Clothing company United Colors of Benetton saw net income fall over the first nine-months of the year, after being hurt by sales declines in Europe and rising input costs.

The Italian manufacturer and retailer today (14 November) said net income was down to EUR60m for the first nine months of the year, from EUR85m in the same period last year. Operating profit fell to EUR645m from EUR696m due to higher raw material prices, particularly cotton and wool.

Sales were down 0.5% to EUR1.5bn.

The company said the results were in spite of extensive efforts to accelerate growth in markets where there are "promising opportunities" - mainly in emerging markets. It had also tried to defend its market share in established markets where the economic crisis has dampened consumer expenditure.

Franco Furnò,CEO with responsibility for commercial, product and human resources, said the company has been working to strengthen its communication, marketing and merchandising.

He added that recent successes include dedicated collections for Asiatic countries, which are "particularly auspicious for continued growth in those markets".