Domenico De Sole, chief executive of luxury goods maker Gucci Group NV today told an annual shareholders meeting that business conditions would remain tough until the end of 2002.

However, he maintained the company's full-year profit forecast, and said Gucci's full-year forecast that diluted earnings per share would come in at 2.60-3.00 euros, a decline of three to 16 per cent from last year.

In an interview with newspaper Corriere della Sera, De Sole also said Gucci's Yves Saint Laurent brand was on course for breakeven by the end of 2003 and a profit in 2004.

Also at the meeting, Gucci's majority owner French retailer Pinault Printemps Redoute (PPR said it would honour its commitment to bid for the rest of Gucci's shares in 2004.

This deal was part of the settlement with LVMH over ownership of Gucci. Under its terms, PPR will buy some 48 per cent of Gucci's outstanding capital at $101.5 per share in March 2004 if Gucci stock was not already above that level.