Prada, the Italian fashion house, has halted its shopping spree after spending L564.3bn (E291m, $265m) last year collecting a clutch of distinguished brands across Europe. Patrizio Bertelli, chief executive, said: "We can find the resources for more, but for now we have to chew what we have bitten off."

Consolidating its acquisitions, restructuring them and planning their future would take until the end of next year. "I do not think we need panic that there may be nothing more to acquire. That day will never come," added Mr Bertelli, who was in Amsterdam presenting annual figures for the privately-held group, which is incorporated in the Netherlands for tax reasons.

On revenues of L2,034bn against L1,332bn, net profits were 2.4 times higher, at L321.1bn compared with L133.3bn. The 1999 earnings figure included a L186.8bn gain on the 9.5 per cent stake Prada had amassed in rival Gucci, which it sold to LVMH of France.

Last year Prada bought Germany's Jil Sander and a Luxembourg company owning the rights to the Helmut Lang brand. It took over Church & Co, the UK shoemaker, and together with LVMH won 51 per cent of Fendi in Italy. The deals left long-term debt nearly six times higher at L496.7bn.

Revenues, up 92 per cent in the first quarter of this year to L839bn, are expected to reach at least L2,900bn for all 2000 as its new units make a full contribution. The group is budgeting for net profits of L600bn. Mr Bertelli said a flotation was no longer absolutely ruled out, but remained unlikely until about 2005.

"Maybe when we get to sales of L10,000bn we will think of listing," he said. The group is this year to launch eye-wear ranges for most of its new brands and a skin-care line for Prada. Watches are to follow, and possibly a Prada perfume.

The departure from Jil Sander of the designer who founded the company would not hinder development of the brand, said Mr Bertelli.

"The creative side is important, but it does not have to be the person with that name and surname," he said of Ms Sander. Miuccia Prada, Mr Bertelli's wife, would remain involved only with the Prada and associated Miu Miu labels.


Source: Financial Times