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Blue Inc cracks Christmas as snow fails to faze shoppers

Young fashion chain Blue Inc said sales shone during the Christmas period because many of its stores were accessible by foot.

Like-for-like sales at Blue Inc, which is considering a flotation, jumped 1.7% in the two weeks to December 31. The figure compares with a 5% rise during the period last year. Total sales jumped 22% during the two-week period, which covered the vital post-Christmas Sales, driven by a stronger than expected performance from newly opened stores in Northern Ireland

Chief executive Steven Cohen said there was disruption because of snow, but added: “Our young, predominantly male customers made the trip to our stores. Foot traffic is more important than cars for us.”

Cohen said that an IPO remained his preferred way to raise expansion finance, and that he was talking to potential brokers, but that it was not necessary to float and no decision was imminent. It is understood that Blue Inc is considering other options to raise money.

Cohen said that, although some product price inflation is likely going forward, Blue Inc’s rising sales volumes and purchasing power would provide some insulation.

He said: “We’re looking at our supply chain and trying to re-engineer it. We’ll look carefully at which lines can support cost inflation.”

Blue Inc has increased store numbers from 28 to 99 since Cohen led an acquisition in 2006 and Cohen said he thought he could add another 20 stores a year.

The retailer has also appointed former Schroders and Citigroup banker Alan Jacobs as a non-executive director. He is also on the boards of Austin Reed and Reiss.

In the calendar year 2009 -Blue Inc’s most recent results - sales grew 25% to £39.8m and EBITDA rocketed 34% to £2.5m.

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