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MILAN, April 28 (Reuters) - Italy's Luxottica posted a 1.9 percent rise in first-quarter sales at constant currencies, with growth in Europe and Latin America largely offset by weak consumer spending in the United States, the company's biggest market.
The world's largest eyewear group and maker of Ray Ban sunglasses said first-quarter sales totalled 2.384 billion euros, compared with an average Thomson Reuters analyst forecast of 2.37 billion euros ($2.6 billion).
Luxottica, which in January agreed a merger with the world's top lens producer Essilor to create an eyewear powerhouse with 16 billion euros in revenue, targets a low-to-mid single-digit growth in sales at constant currencies this year.
Including the impact of currency moves, first-quarter sales rose 5.2 percent, helped by the group's expanding retail network.
Retail sales grew 3.3 percent at constant currencies in January-March to 1.426 billion euros, while wholesale revenue was flat.
The company said like-for-like sales were negative over the period, without providing a figure.
Luxottica's revenues have suffered in recent quarters as the group introduced a new policy aimed at curbing online discounts of its biggest brand Ray Ban and cut ties with several independent distributors in China.
Luxottica's soft start to the year compares with a 7 percent rise in first-quarter revenue Essilor reported earlier this week net of currency moves.
The Italian company said the rise in revenues was in line with expectations, and margins had also improved over the first quarter. It added the second quarter had seen a positive start, allowing the group to confirm its outlook for the year.
Luxottica and Essilor expect to complete their merger process by the end of the year after receiving a green light from various antitrust authorities. ($1 = 0.9189 euros) (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Valentina Za; editing by Francesca Landini)