Earnings to rise by 6.5%
Italian fashion giant Benetton's estimated consolidated revenue rose 8.4 per cent to Eu1.91 billion (£1.26 billion) last year, compared with Eu1.77 billion (£1.12 billion) in 2005.

Net income is expected to have increased by about 6.5 per cent for the period.

In light of orders taken for spring/summer 2007 and first indications of autumn/winter, the company estimated that revenue will remain in line with a sustainable growth-rate forecast of 6 per cent to 8 per cent. The clothing retailer also hopes for double-digit growth in accessories and shirts during the year.

Benetton expects strong growth in foreign markets in 2007 - especially in the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe, China and India. It will invest between Eu250 million and Eu300 million (£164.7 million and£197.6 million) - most of which will go on supporting foreign market growth. A significant sum will also be invested in new IT systems, to assist volume growth and the greater segmentation of collections.

Benetton group chairman Luciano Benetton said: 'The positive trend in 2006 is confirmation of the effectiveness of commercial policies launched in previous years and of the continual improvement in service to the client - both in terms of speed and richness of the product offering.'

The final results for 2006 will be released on March 16.