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Innovation drives sales and profits at Pentland Group

Pentland Group, the company behind outdoor brand Berghaus and swimwear giant Speedo, saw sales leap 9% to £1.13bn in 2009 and has backed streetwear brand Boxfresh as a key performer for the current year.

The company, which has a 57% shareholding in sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion and - as the parent of the UK’s biggest brand supply house Pentland Brands, also owns Italian sports brand Ellesse and has the global footwear licences for Lacoste and Ted Baker - grew profits 16% to £79.4m during the year to December 31.

Chief executive Andy Rubin attributed the strong results to investment in performance technology in sportswear which was also applied to Pentland’s fashion brands, and called on the wider industry to follow its lead.

“We have to work hard, and be innovative and creative in order to create demand. Input costs are going up in Asia and China and the weak pound is affecting costs and consumer confidence,” he said. “Those brands and retailers that have compelling offers and differentiate themselves will win.”

Rubin predicted a threefold rise in revenues for Boxfresh in the current year. He said: “We’ve got the link between music and fashion right.” Pentland did not split out Boxfresh’s performance in the period.

He also forecast a strong year for Berghaus, which grew sales 20% in 2009, thanks to significant growth in Asia and “very strong” UK sales. Rubin credited its combination of performance and increased fashionability.

Speedo has launched the body-hugging Speedo Sculpture women’s swimwear range based on its understanding of fit.

Rubin added that Pentland Group’s key challenge was overseas expansion in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China.

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