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Ferragamo CEO sees higher 2015 sales after 'excellent' February

A shopper carries her purchases from the Salvatore Ferragamo boutique on Rodeo Drive, ahead of the Christmas festive season in Beverly Hills December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian luxury group Salvatore Ferragamo (SFER.MI) expects its sales to grow this year after the Chinese New Year contributed to an "excellent" performance in February, Chief Executive Michele Norsa said on Sunday.

Ferragamo reported at the end of January a preliminary 6 percent rise in last year's revenue to 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion). It will publish final 2014 results on March 12.

Norsa said a weaker euro, lower oil prices, buoyant financial markets and the impact of the European Central Bank's bond buying program were all factors supporting the 2015 outlook, despite ongoing global threats such as Islamic extremism.

"It's reasonable to expect another year of growth," Norsa told journalists ahead of the brand's Autumn/Winter 2015 women's collection show, answering a question about sales.

"February was an excellent month," he added.

The Chinese New Year has a significant impact on luxury spending. Italian fashion house Prada (1913.HK) said a week ago its sales to the end of January had suffered because the Chinese New Year fell on Feb. 19, while in 2014 it was on Jan. 31. [ID:nL5N0VW0BZ]

Norsa said the festivity had brought Chinese tourists to places like Korea, Japan, Australia, the West Coast of the United States but also to Europe, including Italy.

"We've seen in the last week Chinese disseminated all around the world spending money ... It is really a strong move," he said. "The dynamics of our retail outlets, also in Italy, over the past 10 days have been rather extraordinary."

A weaker euro will likely continue to drive Chinese tourists to Europe this year and Milan's upcoming Expo 2015 international exhibition should help Italy's role as the first country they visit in the Continent.

A larger Chinese presence would help offset a drag on luxury sales from the lack of Russian tourists across Europe.

With Russia's economy seen shrinking this year and the value of the rouble hit by a financial crisis, Norsa said Russians were traveling more to places like Turkey or Egypt.

"It'll be a while before they come back to Europe," he said.

Ferragamo, which has the higher exposure in its sector to travelers shopping in places like airports, will open around 10 sales outlets in airports this year, Norsa said mentioning Dubai, Helsinki and Quito.

New shops were planned also in cities like Copenhagen, Berlin and New York, he said, declining to give an overall target for shop openings.

(Reporting by Valentina Za)