Marcolin ended 2009 with a 3.5 percent drop in sales to €180.3 million due to decline in some important foreign markets such as Spain and Russia. The company pursued an aggressive commercial policy in terms of discounts but the top line found some support from the roll-out of new collections licensed by DSquared2, Tod's and Hogan. At constant currency rates, revenues were down by 4.4 percent.

Turnover rose by 11.6 percent to €40.5 million in Italy, fell by 13.2 percent to €63.0 million in the rest of Europe and slipped by 1.7 percent to €39.6 million in the U.S. In the rest of the world revenues were down by 1.2 percent to €37.2 million, affected by a weak market in the United Arab Emirates partially offset by an increase in sales in Australia and Brazil.

Operating earnings before amortization and depreciation (Ebitda) dropped to €15.1 million from €20.3 million and operating profit before interest and tax (Ebit) fell to €9.4 million from €13.2 million. The Ebitda margin dropped to 8.4 percent of sales from 10.9 percent, and the Ebit margin slipped to 5.2 percent from 7.1 percent.

Along with the weaker top line, operating profits were affected by the group's decision to increase structural and marketing investments to €5.6 million from €3.9 million to reinforce its brand portfolio, as well as the impact of guaranteed minimum royalties pledged to licensors.

In 2008, operating results had benefited from a €3.6 million one-off gain stemming from the closure of the group's former sports eyewear and helmets subsidiary, Cébé.

Nevertheless, the group improved its free cash flow to €11.1 million from €2.5 million and cut its net debt to €23.8 million at the end of 2009, from €32.7 million a year earlier.

Net profits rose to €7.1 million from €6.1 million thanks to lower taxation, but the company decided to omit paying a dividend to strengthen its balance sheet. The company has not paid a dividend since May 2003.

Marcolin said it experienced a significant increase in its order book in January and February and that it is confident about 2010. It added that the launch of the John Galliano collection was «promising.» The company expects the business environment to remain challenging this year but it aims to develop international sales thanks to a «competitive and complete» brand portfolio.

In February, Marcolin renewed the Tom Ford license until end-2015. In March, it renewed the Kenneth Cole New York and Kenneth Cole Reaction licenses until 2014.

The company will ask shareholders to authorise it to continue its share buyback program to a maximum of 10 percent of its capital, representing a nearly €10 million outlay. Marcolin already owns 1.1 percent of its own equity.