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Boden set to launch in France as European sales rise

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Boden , the fashion retailer that sells primarily through online and catalogues, is expanding into new international markets. The company, which this week reported a 13% rise in full-year profits, said it was to test its wares in the French market in this autumn and had plans to move into further European markets next year.

The news came as the company said profits were up by 13% to £32.5m in the year to December 31 2010, on sales up by 15% to £232.2m. German and Austrian shoppers proved receptive to its range, with sales there up by 61% during the year thanks to more than 100,000 new active customers. There was also growth in its US market “despite tough trading conditions.”

At the end of 2010, Boden had more than 1.27m active customers in total, 11% more than a year earlier. The company said sales growth had continued in 2011, with like-for-like sales up by 5% in the six months to June 30 2011 and continued growth in both the US and EU. A highlight was the launch of internet-only womenswear lines such as maternity, workwear and limited edition ranges.

“The successful launch of internet-only styles without the support of catalogue mailings is particularly promising and will help drive profitability in the longer-term,” said chief executive Julian Granville. “We will look to expand this area over the course of the next year.”

But the company warned that despite sales growth the “challenging economic environment” was putting pressure on profitability this year, and that it was continuing to focus on controlling its costs in order to support profits and cashflow. Nonetheless, it remained confident of long-term growth opportunities.

Granville said: “Given the difficult economic environment over the last year, we are very pleased with our increased profitability and the continued growth of the business. Our customer base continues to expand and we now have over 1.2m loyal customers worldwide.”

He added: “Whilst we remain cautious about the current economic and retail environment, the management are confident that Boden is a strong and robust business and brand that will continue to grow.”

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