UPDATE 1-PPR says aims to improve profitability in 2010
* PPR Q1 sales 4.13 bln euros in line with Reuters poll
* Q1 sales up 1.3 percent like-for-like
* Says aims for improved profitability and sales for 2010
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PARIS, April 28 (Reuters) - French retail and luxury group PPR (PRTP.PA) returned to growth for the first time after five straight quarters of decline with a 1.3 percent rise in first-quarter comparable sales, broadly in line with forecasts.
Much of the increase came from Gucci Group, which accounts for the bulk of PPR's valuation, with comparable sales up 6.1 percent and the Gucci brand alone up 5.3 percent in the first three months of the year.
PPR, which also includes retailers Fnac, Conforama and Redcats, on Wednesday posted total sales of 4.13 billion euros, roughly in line with expectations of 4.1 billion euros based on a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.
Gucci Group's sales growth compares with a 10 percent rise in comparable first-quarter sales at LVMH's (LVMH.PA) fashion and leather goods division and Burberry's (BRBY.L) first-half rise of 6 percent in like-for-like sales.
PPR said it expected sales growth to speed up during the year and profitability to improve.
"With all these programs (regarding sales, marketing and cost control) in place, we should deliver a healthy progression in operating and financial performances in 2010," PPR Chairman and Chief Executive Francois-Henri Pinault said in a statement.
Puma (PUMG.DE), of which PPR owns 69.4 percent, on Wednesday raised its own expectations for the current year after posting forecast-beating first quarter results. [nLDE63P1QL]
PPR shares reached a one-year high of 110.7 euros on April 22 and have been sliding since the beginning of the week, pulled down by the overall market. On Wednesday, they closed down 1.38 percent at 103.95 euros.
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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