28 more stores planned by La Senza

La Senza, the specialist lingerie retailer whose shares have halved since it floated on the Alternative Investment Market last year, is to open a further 28 stores this year and launch a range of own-brand beachwear.

The announcement accompanied a pounds 1.5m loss for the year to 1 February - in line with a profits warning in January.

La Senza is using the pounds 19m raised from last May's flotation to add to its chain of 39 stores. Of the 28 openings planned for the next 12 months, two will be in London, with a second store on Oxford Street and the other on Kings Road, Chelsea.

La Senza is keen on developing its product lines and will launch its "La Senza Beach" range of swimwear later this month.

The results announcement included an upbeat trading statement which showed like-for-like sales since the year-end had risen 11 per cent on the same period last year. The figures pushed La Senza's shares 5p higher to 82.5p compared with their 150p issue price.

La Senza's deputy chairman, Laurence Lewin, described current trading as "promising" and said the company was encouraged by the acceptance of its new spring ranges.

The group's losses of pounds 1.5m compared to a deficit of pounds 1.8m the previous year. Sales were pounds 18m versus pounds 10m last year.

La Senza launched a loyalty card during the year and 14 stores were opened in the last four months of the year. However, many opened later than expected, forcing the company to issue a profits warning in January which knocked 17p off the company's shares.

La Senza says it stands to benefit from the growth in the UK lingerie market which is forecast to expand by over 25 per cent over the next five years.

The group's main competitors include Marks & Spencer, which still dominates the market, and niche retailers such as Knickerbox.

Some of its stores openings were delayed last year when squatters took over two sites in London and the Manchester bomb affected its store in the Arndale centre.

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