German clothing giant Hugo Boss has prospered from a move towards women's clothing, which helped boost its overall sales for fiscal 2006 by 14% to EUR1.49bn (US$2.9bn), up from EUR1.3bn in 2005.

Its Boss Womenswear arm increased sales by 69% to EUR162m, up from EUR96m in 2005.

In its annual statement, released in Metzingen, Germany, Boss' board said Boss Womenswear "played a key role in the encouraging sales trend, as did the shoes and leather accessories product line".

This section increased its sales by 28% in fiscal 2006, to EUR151m, up from EUR118m in 2005.

The board added that overall sales were also boosted by the expansion within Boss' directly operated store chain, with 65 new branches launched, increasing sales by 39% to EUR192m, up from EUR138m.

Earnings before taxes improved by 13% to EUR184m and net income by 19% to EUR129m.

Boss chairman Dr Bruno Sälzer said his group "again achieved record-level sales and earnings in fiscal 2006, continuing the successful trend of previous years. We are therefore optimistic that we will evidence considerably stronger growth than the overall world fashion market again this year."

By Keith Nuthall.