A stellar performance in its luxury division, which includes brands like Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent, has helped French group PPR to a 15% rise in first-quarter revenue.

The conglomerate, which also owns sport and lifestyle brands like Puma, today (26 April) said sales from continuing operations climbed to EUR3.3bn (US$4.4bn). On a like-for-like basis, sales rose 7.9%.

This strong start to the year was powered by growth in emerging countries, which now represent around 37% of revenues, the company said.

Luxury division sales surged 18% on a like-for-like basis, with double-digit growth in all geographic areas. The sport and lifestyle division showed more modest growth, with sales gaining 14.6% on a reported basis.

"These performances bear witness to the Group's momentum, its successful multi-brand strategy, the remarkable geographic spread of its businesses and the strength of its business model," said CEO François-Henri Pinault.

"This reinforces our confidence in PPR's ability to deliver another year of brisk revenue growth, combined with gains in operating and financial performance, in 2012."

Like-for-like sales at Gucci were up 12%, Bottega Veneta surged 33%, and Yves Saint Laurent soared 40%. Other luxury brands saw comparable sales growth of 20%, with Western Europe up 12%, North America up 33%, Asia-Pacific up 30% (of which China rose 28%) and Japan up 10%.

Momentum was especially strong for fashion and leather goods, PPR said, with growth of more than 30% for the quarter, driven by "sparkling performances" at both Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.

Like-for-like sales increased 3% at the company's sport and lifestyle division, with the main sportswear brand Puma hurt by sluggish consumer spending in Europe. The company yesterday said net profit at Puma fell 4.9% to EUR74m, while sales increased 6.1% to EUR820.9m.