French luxury goods operator PPR Group has posted first-half net income up 17% to EUR344m (US$506.4m), attributed to the improvement of group operating performance and tighter control over financial charges and tax rate.

Its boosted income was also driven by growth in recurring operating income from the Gucci Group, which grew 13%.

During the interim period, PPR generated revenues from continuing operations of EUR9.58bn, up 12% in reported terms and 5% in comparable terms versus the first half of 2007.

François-Henri Pinault, PPR Group chairman and CEO, said: "Our solid performances in the first half can be attributed to the favourable balance of our group profile and the strength of our global brands. PPR has always been able to take advantage of periods of slower growth and the present case is no exception."

PPR said that its group recurring operating income amounted to EUR742m, up 24% compared to the first half of 2007 and that EDITDA for the first half of 2008 stood at EUR942m, an increase of 22% compared to the first half of 2007.

As of 25 August the group held a controlling interest of 68.5% in the share capital of sports brand Puma. Earlier this month it was reported that profits at Puma fell 4.3% in the first half of 2008, despite a recovery in sales and earnings in the second quarter.

PPR added today (29 August) that on a pro-forma basis, consolidating Puma and United Retail over the first six months of 2007, its group recurring operating income for the first half of 2008 posted grew 1% and EBITDA rose by 2% at actual exchange rates.

Earlier this week PPR had hailed Puma's marketing at the Beijing Olympics as a success though, as it sponsored 16 national teams and endorsed outstanding Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who won three gold medals and broke three world records.

Pinault added: "We are determined to further improve our commercial effectiveness and optimise our operational structure in order to benefit from a decisive and immediate competitive advantage as soon as there is an upturn in growth.

"Specific and quantified action plans are currently being implemented. These underscore PPR's ability and ambition to intensify its development and profitability ever further. We are confident in the outlook for the second half and stand by our objectives for growth and improved financial performance for 2008."

The company also reported that Redcats UK had sold its portfolio of trade receivables as well as a portion of the inventory relating to Empire Stores operations to Littlewoods Shop Direct Group on 11 July. Meanwhile, Redcats USA sold its Missy Division including the Chadwick's, metrostyle and Closeout Catalog Outlet brands to Monomoy Capital Partners, a US investment fund, on 28 July.