Mulberry posts 41% surge in sales on Asian demand

LONDON - British luxury handbag maker Mulberry posted surging Christmas sales and raised its annual profits forecast Thursday, in a further sign that the high-end fashion sector is bypassing the economic gloom.


Mulberry campaign

Retail sales at the group jumped 41 percent in the six weeks to January 14 from a year earlier on strong Asian demand, Mulberry said in a trading update.

"I am delighted that trading during Christmas and the New Year has been strong and consequently the results for the year to 31 March 2012 are likely to exceed our earlier expectations," said Mulberry chairman and chief executive Godfrey Davis.

Mulberry is benefitting from particularly strong demand at its stores in Asia -- and from affluent Asian tourists visiting its shops in the West -- for items including the Alexa handbag.

Mulberry is the latest luxury retailer to post surging sales despite spreading economic gloom elsewhere on the high street.

Rival group Burberry, which also enjoys robust Asian demand, announced earlier this week that its sales jumped by more than a fifth in the run-up to Christmas.

Burberry, famous for its trench coats and trademark red, camel and black check design, said Tuesday that revenues leapt 21 percent to £574 million (687 million euros, $886 million), in the three months to the end of December, compared with the same part of 2010.

At the same time however, many low-end retailers are struggling to survive on the British high street as cash-strapped consumers tighten their belts.

Fashion retail chain Peacocks collapsed into administration on Wednesday, a move blamed on tough trading conditions and that has put almost 10,000 jobs at risk.

Administration refers to the process whereby a troubled company calls upon independent expert financial help in a bid to remain operational.

Peacocks is the biggest retailer in Britain to enter administration since fashion-to-confectionery chain Woolworths collapsed in December 2008.

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