German clothing brand Hugo Boss, which has been manufacturing in Melbourne since 1925, has said it is committed to its Australian production facilities.

Speaking at the opening of the company's new Melbourne head office, showroom, and distribution centre, Bruno Saelzer, deputy chairman of Hugo Boss International, said that the Preston site, which also houses the production plant, would ensure "long-term employment in the manufacturing sector." He added that: "We are confident the new facilities in Preston will help us achieve double-digit growth in the next five years."

Dr Saelzer said Australia was one of Hugo Boss's key markets outside Europe, and that he was unphased by the difficulties and decline in the Australian market.

According to the Australian Retailers Association, business for many clothing retailers is down 20 per cent on last year, while other reports suggest spending on clothing has dropped 30 per cent over the past 10 years.

Hugo Boss's Australian business has doubled in the past five years. Across the company as a whole, annual sales exceed $A1.6 billion worldwide, and are expected to increased by a further 14 per cent in 2001.