Footwear sales grew by 22.1 percent on a comparable basis and by 21.2 percent in actual terms within the Gucci division of Gucci Group in the 3rd quarter ended Sept. 30, reaching a level of €74.9 million. They rose by 22.0 percent to €206.5 million in the first nine months of the year, and the growth rate was second only to that of the brand’s ready-to-wear, but higher than that of Gucci’s core leathergoods.

Gucci Group’s total revenues rose by 17.1 percent on a comparable basis in the latest quarter, with increases of 19.6 percent in Europe, 17.1 percent in North America and 18.8 percent in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan. They reached a total level of €399.6 million in the quarter and €1,062.0 million in the 9-month period.

Bottega Veneta grew by 56.5 percent in the latest quarter, with its new ready-to-wear and footwear segments rising by 63 percent. Yves Saint Laurent was up by almost 19 percent. Sergio Rossi and other Gucci brands posted double-digit growth during the latest quarter.

Overall, sales of luxury goods increased by 18.5 percent to €2,530 million in the first nine months of 2006 for the PPR Group, strongly contributing to a 7.0 percent increase in total revenues to €12,556 million.

There was strong speculation in the French press a few days ago that PPR may be looking for the acquisition of another luxury goods operation. The speculation is related to reports that PPR is looking to sell its large music, video and book retailing chain, FNAC, for about €2 billion.

The group recently said that it could easily make use of €5 billion to finance acquisitions in the luxury goods sector. It has hired an investment analyst, Gregoire Amigues, as strategic development manager to help conduct asset disposals and takeovers. However it’s going to be difficult to find another prey in the luxury goods sector at a reasonable price in view of the positive momentum these kinds of products are enjoying, raising the multiples requested for takeovers and stock offerings.

Valentino Fashion Group, whose hottest property is Hugo Boss, is said to be looking for a new investor now. Besides PPR, LVMH may both be interested in an acquisition or in a strategic partnership. Another potential candidate could be a big equity fund being set up by Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH, and Albert Frère, the wealthy Belgian investor.