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Hugo Boss sees revival plan bearing fruit in 2018

BERLIN The new chief executive of Hugo Boss (BOSSn.DE) said he expects to return the struggling German fashion house to growth in 2018, announcing plans to simplify its brand portfolio and adjust prices in a bid to appeal to younger customers.

Mark Langer, the former finance chief who was appointed CEO in May, said the company will focus in future on two main brands – upper premium businesswear under the BOSS label, and a new positioning for its HUGO label for a younger audience.

Ahead of an investor day in London, Boss said it expected 2017 to be a year of stabilization, predicting a return to growth in 2018, with plans to harmonize prices across the globe set to be completed by the end of 2018.

Shares in Hugo Boss, which have rallied 14 percent in the last month after it announced a recovery in sales in China, were indicated down 1.8 percent in pre-market trade, among the biggest fallers in German mid-cap stocks .MDAXI.

The firm said the BOSS Orange and BOSS Green labels – the former more fashion-focused and the latter inspired by sports – would no longer be continued as separate brands, but would be integrated into the core BOSS brand.

Meanwhile, the HUGO line – already aiming for a younger, trendier consumer – will aim for “fashionable collections at attractive prices” around 30 percent lower than the BOSS brand, with the realignment to be done by the Spring 2018 collection.

Langer had already announced plans to return Hugo Boss to its roots selling smart men’s suits, reversing the course of his predecessor Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, who sought to make the label more of a luxury brand and invested heavily in womenswear.

Boss said on Thursday that womenswear would remain an important part of the business, continuing its collaboration with designer Jason Wu. However, the group will present its menswear collection at the New York fashion week next year rather than the womenswear line.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Victoria Bryan)