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Busy Burberry plans to expand in its own fashion; FASHION.

Fashion house Burberry pledged to ramp up expansion as it celebrated an "outstanding" 12 per cent rise in underlying earnings in its 150th anniversary year.

The group, famous for its distinctive black, camel and red check

design, said continued strong demand for its luxury handbags - particularly its special anniversary range, the Burberry Icons Collection - helped to lift earnings to pounds 185.1 million in the year to March 31.

It will now look to increase its retail selling space by about 13 per cent with the opening of 20 stores, most of them in the US.

Chief executive Angela Ahrendts said the group had achieved an "outstanding performance" as revenues rose to pounds 850.3 million, up 15 per cent on an underlying basis and a sharp acceleration from the three per cent growth seen last year.

"We face the current year with confidence, given the strength of our brand," she added.

Burberry said performance was also boosted by the popularity of its raincoats, for both men and women, while its newly launched eyewear collection and Burberry Summer scent helped raise licence revenues in the second half of the year.

New luxury products, effective marketing and the growth in accessories, including belts and shoes, helped retail sales increase by 24 per cent. Retail now accounts for 48 per cent of total group revenues, marking an important milestone for the company which has been transforming itself to a retail-led group, a move away from its previous wholesale-led

focus.

Following a review of the company, the group has cut back on the number of goods on offer but upped prices and enhanced its luxury and high fashion elements of its business.

Pretax profits came in at pounds 156.3 million after Burberry was hit by pounds 6.5 million of costs relating to the closure of polo-shirt factory in Treorchy, south Wales, with the loss of 300 jobs.

Bay Trading owner Alexon Group said like-for-like sales during the

16 weeks to May 20 were flat over the previous year, and warned sales had slowed during the last two weeks - which it primarily blamed on the colder, wetter weather. The group said it expected trading to pick up in the second half of the year when it should start to see the benefits of improvements to its ranges.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 25, 2007
Words:385
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