Luxury goods firm PPR today (24 April) posted a 19.8% hike in first-quarter revenues to EUR4.9bn (US$7.7bn) but hinted at a slowdown in the luxury market amid what it described as "a challenging quarter" for the Gucci brand.

On a like-for-like basis, PPR - which also owns the La Redoute mail order business as well as brands including Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent - said total revenues rose 4.1%.

This, in turn, prompted chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault to say he expects the company "to deliver another year of growth and enhanced financial performance in 2008."

Sales at Gucci Group, whose luxury brands include Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Sergio Rossi, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, rose 4% to EUR816m.

On a like-for-like basis, Gucci Group sales were up 9.6%,

Fashion and Leather Goods reported double-digit growth, and Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) rose by 26%, with the Chinese market "particularly buoyant" with a jump of116%.

Sales of the Gucci brand, however, dropped 3.3%, while like-for-like growth slowed to 2.4% from 10.2% in last year's quarter. The strongest trading was seen in emerging markets, PPR said.

Bottega Veneta's first quarter revenues surged by 31.5% on a comparable basis, with sales momentum was sustained in all geographical areas: up 31% in Japan, 30% in Europe, 46% in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, and 19% in North America.

Strong demand for its handbags pushed Yves Saint Laurent to a 20.2% increase in revenues, while PPR said sales of its other brand rose 20.8% on a comparable basis.

Performance at the Redcats mail order group was broadly in line with expectations, PPR said. Total sales were down 1.1% to EUR916m, or 4.4% on a like-for-like basis, hurt by "the poor economic environment, particularly in the apparel market."

German sportswear unit Puma saw a 6.6% rise in like-for-like sales, with the US economic slowdown dragging down growth, particularly in footwear.

Revenues at the Fnac electronics, books and CD chain were up 2.9% to EUR1.0bn, but at Conforama, which sells furniture, sales fell 0.8% to EUR789.8m. The CFAO unit, which sells cars and computers, saw revenues up 17.5% on a comparable basis.