Liberty celebrates its best Christmas

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The Independent Online

London's swelling ranks of super-rich residents flocked to Liberty for their festive shopping, helping the mock Tudor-fronted emporium to enjoy its best Christmas.

Despite trading from 20 per cent less space than last year after moving out of the Regent Street side of its store, Liberty said underlying sales shot 6 per cent higher over the Christmas period.

Iain Renwick, the chief executive, said the "stunning" result was down to the store's recent facelift, which has repositioned it as one of the capital's most exclusive shopping destinations. He said the group's Liberty of London brand, which uses archive prints to adorn accessories and some clothing lines, had sold as well as top luxury labels such as Miu Miu, Celine and Marc Jacobs. "Our own brand goods sold equally well as top-end brands at equivalent price points, which is very, very encouraging for the future."

Mr Renwick plans to roll the brand into overseas markets, starting in the next six months with Japan. He is "looking for the right opportunity" in the Middle East, and hopes to wholesale the brand into the US within three to five years.

The most popular gifts over Christmas included women's and men's luxury fashion accessories, and fine jewellery. "There was no end to the demand," Mr Renwick said, adding that over two consecutive days the store took almost £1m.

He said Liberty was popular with the "ultra high net worth individuals" who have migrated to London in recent years. Russian billionaires and oil-rich Arabs have become a feature of the capital, boosting luxury retailers' takings and the property market.

"The retail sector is almost numbingly banal. Liberty is perceived as offering a point of difference," Mr Renwick added.

For the six months to June, Liberty made a £1.6m loss on sales of £20m.