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Jane Norman jubilant after cracking Xmas

Young fashion chain Jane Norman has reported record Christmas sales, with coats, knitwear and trousers performing best over the festive period.

Finance director Ian Findlay told Drapers that this Christmas was one of the best ever. Like-for-like sales in November and December were up 7% against strong comparatives.

The retailer is poised to open a raft of stores in new overseas markets this year, in partnership with franchise group Alshaya and department store Debenhams.

Jane Norman chief executive Saj Shah said that the retailer will enter markets including Norway, the Netherlands, the Middle East, Sweden, Cyprus and Romania, initially through franchised concessions and then standalone stores. The Baugur-owned group is to team up with Debenhams for some of the openings.

Findlay said: "We have a really good relationship with Debenhams based upon our UK partnership, and we are in 76 of its stores now. We've spoken to the company about its overseas opening programme over the next few years."

Debenhams has about 30 international franchised stores. After its recent IPO, it unveiled an aggressive store opening strategy to grow international franchises from 30 to 70 by April 2011. Findlay added that the Debenhams openings would be a good way for the retailer to "dip a toe in the water".

He confirmed that the retailer would file accounts at Companies House this week, which reveal sales for the year to March 2006 rose by 37% to £97 million, up from £71m last year. EBITDA jumped to £20.8m in the same period, against £14.3m last year.

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