German fashion group Escada AG on Monday posted a sharp fall in first quarter pre-tax profit amid a sales slump.

The company, which last year concentrated on the sale of non-core businesses, reported a profit of 500,000 euros compared to 11.9 million euros in the year-ago period, while sales plunged to 155 million euros from 210.8 million euros.

Escada said the sales slide, which came amid a weak retail environment in the key domestic market, was in line with forecasts and it aims to double turnover at its core Escada brand to one billion euros by 2010.

It added: "Due to the positive orders situation for all 2003 fall/winter collections and despite the adverse market environment, management still expects EBIT for the full year to increase significantly to around 30 million euros."

In December, Escada reported a full-year net profit of 3.9 million euros compared to a loss of 24.2 million euros in the year-ago period.