German fashion house Hugo Boss has lowered its full-year forecasts after earnings in the first nine months of its fiscal year fell 17% and sales dropped in key markets. 

The group said today that earnings were down 17% to EUR128 for the first three-quarters of the year, from EUR153m in the same period last year.

While total sales increased by 3% to EUR1,364m from EUR1,328m last time, sales in its domestic market slipped by 3% to EUR279m from EUR287m. Elsewhere in Europe, sales rose 2% to EUR671m.

Expansion of the group's own retail business in North America and Asia pushed it to double-digit growth in these markets.

On the American continent, currency adjusted sales were up by 13%, with an even greater rise of 16% in the US.

In Asia and other Regions, sales rose by an even more impressive 22%. Sales growth of 35% was seen in China.

The company now operates 314 stores around the world, which generated sales growth of 17%  in the last nine months.

However, blaming "the general economic situation," Hugo Boss management expects sales growth for fiscal 2008 to be at the lower end of earlier forecasts of 6-8%.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) are seen coming in slightly below last year's level, at between EUR210m and EUR220m.