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Karen Millen aims to double sales following Aurora split

Karen Millen plans to double its sales to £500m in the next five years, after a decision by parent company Aurora Fashions to spin the company off as an independent business.

The premium womenswear chain said the growth would be driven by further international expansion, including into China, Canada and Latin America.

It also plans to open stores in European markets such as Germany (where it already has three stores) and Italy, following successful roll-outs in France and Spain.

Both Karen Millen and Aurora will remain 90% owned by nationalised Icelandic bank Kaupthing, with the remainder held by management.

The spin-off means that when Kaupthing sells its investments, Karen Millen is likely to end up in separate hands to the other Aurora chains, Oasis, Coast and Warehouse.

Aurora finance director Richard Glanville said the split was designed to give Karen Millen the finance to expand globally, and that additional debt facilities had been secured to fund its growth. In 2004, just 5% of Karen Millen’s £80m turnover was from overseas business. Now, 60% of its £250m turnover is from overseas.

“With Karen Millen’s international success its requirements for cash have been much higher than expected,” Glanville said.

It is understood all the other Aurora fascias will continue to grow internationally through concessions. Peru, Argentina and Chile are on the agenda for Oasis and Warehouse.

Aurora executive chairman Derek Lovelock will chair Karen Millen. Glanville and Aurora chief executive Mike Shearwood will remain on the board as investors but will not be involved with the day-to-day running of Karen Millen.

Joint managing directors Gemma Metheringham and Steve Price will remain in situ.

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