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Losses widen at Liberty

Department store Liberty saw EBITDA losses widen to £3.6m for the year to December 31 2007 because of increased investment in its Liberty of London own brand venture.

Liberty's sales rose 4% over the year to £45.8m and sales at Liberty's flagship store in London, including sales generated via concessions, rose by 2% to £38.3m.

During 2007 Liberty invested £3.5m in its own brand venture against investment of £2m in 2006, which adversely impacted profits. However Liberty of London did gain momentum during the year, with sales up 8% to £3.2m. A Liberty of London standalone store will open in London's Sloane Street this summer.

Liberty said the Liberty of London project was a long term venture and that it did not expect the label to generate positive profit returns for the next few years.

Separately Liberty said that womenswear sales had fallen back in 2007 but this was partly offset by an improved performance in menswear where sales were up 18% to £4.6m over the year.

Liberty chairman Richard Balfour-Lynn said: "We continue to make great strides in establishing our Liberty of London luxury products label, and its progression to becoming a global brand. The board is confident that Liberty has the structure, products and people to product an improving platform for growth in the current year."

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