MILAN Giorgio Armani is to broaden his line of bags and shoes to meet the growing demand for easy-to-wear and timeless fashion items and boost the Italian designer's profit margins.
Sales of accessories are the fastest-growing sector in the luxury goods industry because they offer design pieces that fit wardrobes easily and can be worn for more than a season.
Accessories also drive profit margins for luxury makers because prices to customers largely offset production costs.
"The only stores opening on the streets now sell accessories," Armani, whose luxury empire spans from clothing to luxury hotels, told reporters on Thursday after presenting his Emporio Armani young line collection for next summer.
Armani said he expected sales of accessories to account for up to 40 percent of his global turnover in the near-term.
Clothing represented 57 percent of the group's 1.8 billion euros ($2.35 billion) sales in 2011.
The unlisted Armani empire reported a 13.6 percent rise in revenues last year, helped by a 45 percent boost in China, the fastest-growing luxury market.
The Armani group has six clothing lines, including the top Giorgio Armani collections. It also makes sunglasses, fragrances and make-up with licensees such as eyewear maker Luxottica.
The hands-on designer, who has repeatedly said he has no intention to sell his business, said on Thursday he aimed to grow further this year despite concerns about the euro zone debt crisis.
For the Emporio Armani show, Armani said he preferred to propose clothes that will be found in stores rather than special outfits you only see on catwalks.
"Catwalks serve to inspire buyers. It is useless to create a beautiful show if only a small part of that goes into stores," Armani said, wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans.
The Giorgio Armani collection will be presented on Sunday, as part of the Milan fashion which runs until September 25.
(Editing by Mike Nesbit)