Gucci-owner Kering has posted better-than-expected sales growth in the fourth quarter and said 2018 should be another solid year as the French group refocuses its business solely on luxury. 

Along with peers in the luxury goods industry including French rival LVMH, Kering benefited from a recovery in demand from Chinese consumers at home and overseas last year.

Rising online sales have also propelled growth at the company. 

That trend should continue this year with strong momentum at Kering fashion labels including star performer Gucci and Balenciaga, though the group cautioned that currency swings and a strong euro could weigh on its performance.

"Kering delivered a phenomenal year in 2017," chairman and chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault said in a statement.

He added that the global environment remained uncertain but that Kering could do "much better than our markets" in 2018. 

Kering, which also owns Yves Saint Laurent, has reaped the rewards from an overhaul at Italian fashion house Gucci over the past two years and it revamping itself to focus solely on its luxury credentials. 

It plans to spin off 70% of its sportswear brand Puma to its own shareholders, which include the Pinault family, through its Artemis holding. 

Kering will retain a stake of just under 16% in Puma - which posted an upbeat assessment for 2018 this week - and the disposal is now set for May 16. 

Kering said its overall revenues rose to €4.26 billion in the fourth quarter, up 27.4% year-on-year on a comparable basis, which strips out acquisitions and currency swings. 

That marked a slight slowdown from the 28.4% growth notched up in the previous three months but beat a 24.3% analyst poll.

Kering's high-end fashion labels - with the exception of leather goods specialist Bottega Veneta, which is improving slowly following a turnaround - notched up strong sales growth in 2017.

Revenues in Kering's luxury goods unit rose 30.5% on a comparable basis year-on-year in the fourth quarter. 

By contrast, sales at Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH's fashion and leather goods division were up 10% on a constant currency basis in the period. 

Momentum at Gucci - which was reinvented with a flamboyant new look under designer Alessandro Michele and recently branched into homeware with €295 mugs in butterfly motifs - also eased a touch. 

But it remained well above that of most major rival brands, with comparable sales growth of nearly 43% in the quarter. 

Kering financial director Jean-Marc Duplaix said the group's Balenciaga label, for which it does not break out earnings, posted higher growth than Gucci in the second half of 2017. 

Kering posted a 56.3% rise in adjusted operating income to €2.95 billion for 2017 as a whole, also beating forecasts, while full year revenues rose 27.2% on a comparable basis to €15.48 billion.