German fashion house Gerry Weber International AG has reported a 17.8% rise in profit for the first nine months of its fiscal year, helped by strong sales in its retail outlets.

Profit for the first nine months of 2006/2007 climbed to EUR13.3m (US$18.7), up from last year's EUR11.3m.

The company, which is Germany's third-largest maker of women's clothing, said sales rose by 12.5% to EUR344.0m from EUR305.8m.

Sales of the Gerry Weber brand gained 14.9% to EUR217.6m, giving it a 73.3% share of total sales. Revenues were driven by the sub-labels, Gerry Weber Edition and GW.

At EUR59.9m, sales of Taifun Collection were down on the previous year, as deliveries were increasingly shifted to the fourth quarter. The Group's second largest brand contributed 20.2% to total sales.

Sales of Samoon Collection were flat at EUR19.3m, which represents 6.5% of total sales.

At 35.8%, the strongest sales growth was reported by the Group's retail segment, which comprises the 56 House Of Gerry Weber stores.

"The strong sales growth and the disproportionate increase in profitability show that we are excellently positioned to reach our targets for the current fiscal year: EUR500m in sales and a double-digit EBIT margin", said CEO Gerhard Weber.

Incoming orders for the first two collections of the spring/summer 2008 are up 14.8% on the previous year, which "also shows that we stay on the growth path," the CEO said.

The Group is forecasting a double-digit increase in sales and earnings for the fiscal year 2007/2008.

Over the next five years, sales are expected to double and the number of House Of Gerry Weber stores will rise to between 300 and 400. Mono-brand stores for the Taifun, Samoon, and Gerry Weber Edition lines will also be rolled out.

"The key to our future growth clearly lies in the retail segment", said Gerhard Weber.