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Boden reports increased UK demand in first half

Boden, the catalogue and internet retailer, reported sales in the first half to June 30 rose by 20%, or 6% excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates.

During the first half, the retailer said that trading in the UK market had been better than expected, despite comparable customer spend remaining below last year.

It added that growth had continued in Germany in the first half and that its US business was stable in more challenging conditions than the UK.

The retailer is considering expanding in to Europe and expects sales in Germany – which were EUR9m in the year to December 31, 2008 – to double this year.

Boden, which is 60% owned by its founder Johnnie Boden, is set to launch in Benelux, Scandinavia, France and Switzerland. It will test in those countries over the next few years.

During the full year to December 31 2008, sales at the business rose 9.4% to £168.1m on pre-tax profits down 9.5% to £24.8m.

Profits were hit by higher marketing costs and the costs of building a new infrastructure in the US and opening of a new office in Pennsylvania.

The company does not expect to return to profit growth until 2010 and is set to be hampered by low stock levels in comparison with demand from the UK in the current year.

Boden chief executive Julian Granville, who said that he would like to axe the retailer’s catalogue altogether in the future, added: “We are reasonably pleased with Boden’s 2008 performance in terms of growth and profitability, particularly given the difficult market conditions. Our German business has made good progress and we intend to test other European markets over the next couple of years.

“Our customer base continues to grow and our product range and brand remain strong. We believe that this, together with continued financial discipline, give us a strong base on which to increase profitability when economic conditions improve.”

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