(new: headline, share price section, analyst reactions revised)

METZINGEN (dpa-AFX) - The fashion retailer Hugo Boss has developed better than expected at the beginning of the year despite slowing customers. The first quarter shows that achieving the forecast for the year is very realistic, said CFO Yves Müller in a telephone conference on Thursday. Accordingly, the Group confirmed its targets for 2024, although business in China declined. As a result, the share price slipped on the stock market.

Initially, Hugo Boss was still able to score points with its figures: The share price rose at the start. Analysts were positively surprised. Baader Bank even put the share on its list of "top picks". However, the joy was short-lived. Management statements on the declining business in China overshadowed the figures. The share recently fell by more than seven percent, bringing up the rear in the MDax. The hope that the presentation of the figures would lead to a recovery for the share is therefore over. The year 2024 is going badly for the fashion retailer's shares, which have now fallen by a good 30 percent.

According to the management, the Group grew by a currency-adjusted four percent in Asia. The regions of Japan and South East Asia in particular developed "strongly", said CFO Müller. In China, however, business had declined by a high single-digit percentage, the manager explained. The reason for this was a "high basis for comparison". The French fashion group and Gucci owner Kering also had to contend with the reluctance of wealthy buyers in China at the start of the year.

Between January and the end of March, Hugo Boss performed slightly better than the market had expected. Sales rose by five percent compared to the same period last year, breaking the one billion euro mark, as the MDax-listed company announced in Metzingen on Thursday. In addition to online sales, turnover in stationary wholesale also increased significantly, while the retail business grew moderately.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose by six percent to 69 million euros compared to the same quarter last year. The corresponding margin improved slightly to 6.8 percent. At the bottom line, the Group earned 38 million euros after minority interests, compared to 35 million euros in the previous year. Thanks to lower marketing costs, the profit was slightly higher than expected, wrote expert Chiara Battistini from the bank JPMorgan in an initial commentary.

For the current year, the Management Board continues to expect sales growth of three to six percent to 4.30 to 4.45 billion euros. Earnings before interest and taxes are expected to increase by 5 to 15 percent to between 430 and 470 million euros, resulting in a slight improvement in the corresponding margin./ngu/lew/jha/