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Edited by on April 2 2012 at 9:00 AM

Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo and Versace have all had record years on the strength of the fastest growing luxury market, Asia, as well as South America and the U.S. of A. 

Italian Luxury Riding High from Sales Overseas

Prada had its “best year ever,” according to CEO Patrizio Bertelli,– a year that includes the debut of the luxury firm’s IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange. With a 72% increase in profits to €432 million (or about $577,324,768 at current exchange rates) thanks in large part to sales of shoes and handbags to Asian consumers and revenues totaling €2.6bn (about $3,462,388,818), Prada is now on par with the likes of Hermès.

Ferragamo also went public last year, albeit locally in Milan, and its profits surged almost 70% to €100 million (about $133,216,482) with record sales to Asian, Brazilian and American customers. But Versace perhaps has the biggest reason to celebrate.

Donatella and co. finally turned a profit after three years and a near financial collapse, with earnings of €8.5 million (about $11,324,004) last year; up from a  loss of €21.7 million (about $28,909,517) in 2010. Unlike Prada and Ferragamo, Versace accomplished this sans an IPO and does not plan on going public anytime soon.  Rather, CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris credits the growth to sales in emerging markets, particularly Greater China.

Capitalizing on their international appeal, all three Italian firms plan on expanding their sphere of influence around the world. Prada has 80 store openings in the works for 2012 and 2013 — adding to the 75 stores it opened last year — while Versace plans on opening stores in New York, Los Angeles, Asia and the Middle East and Ferragamo is launching ecommerce in Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, Mexico and Canada.

Soon we’ll all be shopping so much we’ll be speaking Italian, to paraphrase our modern day poet laureate. [Vogue UK, FT]

Story by Lester Brathwaite

I was center square from 1969 to 1978, during which I perfected the art of the zing as well as a crippling cocaine addiction. Bea Arthur was responsible for both. @LesFabian lester at