Spring hues leave Burberry in the pink

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The Independent Online

Burberry, the luxury goods group that turned plaid-lined raincoats into a must-have fashion item, yesterday revealed there was life beyond its trademark check print when it reported a sharp rise in underlying sales.

The company said its new range of candy-pink check accessories had proved a hit among the fashion fraternity, quelling analysts' fears that it was a one-product group.

Rose Marie Bravo, the Burberry chief executive, said the "use of colour throughout the product lines was a key catalyst across the business".

It used its new candy-pink check design to line its trenchcoats and cover accessories. Ms Bravo described the response to its spring/summer womenswear ranges as "outstanding".

The company said underlying sales rose 15 per cent during the six months to 31 March, driven by strong US sales and a better performance from its UK retail estate. Its shares soared 6p to 378.5p.

Claire Kent, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, attributed the 4 to 5 per cent pick-up in like-for-like sales at the group's UK stores to the return of the Asian tourist trade to London.

Burberry is planning to open seven new stores this year in an attempt to expand its net retail selling space by 8 per cent. This follows a 12 per cent expansion during its previous financial year.

It said sales in its wholesale division rose 16 per cent during the past six months, led by strong demand for its spring/summer collections, which capture this season's key floral trend.

Analysts expect GUS, which still owns 65 per cent of Burberry, to come under pressure to declare whether it intends to offload any more shares once the retail conglomerate's lock-up period expires this autumn.

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