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Burberry Revenue Up 6% in 2nd Half

Vigorous retail sales and a well-received spring line drove up Burberry revenue by 6 percent to $683 million in the second half ended March 31.

Licensing revenue for the year is expected to be broadly flat against the corresponding period last year.

The second-half results beat many analysts' expectations. Seymour Pierce in London called the figures "robust" in a research update on Wednesday, and HSBC in Paris characterized second-half sales a "positive surprise."

Burberry said retail sales in the six months ended March 31 rose 27 percent, to 196 million pounds, or $343 million, from 155 million pounds, or $271 million.

The company added that new and refurbished stores in the U.S., including a new unit in Naples, Fla., drove sales growth in that market.

At retail, bestsellers in the period included outerwear (in what has so far been a chilly spring), the Prorsum Margaret handbag and the gold Waterloo fob watch.

As expected, wholesale sales in the six-month period dipped 13 percent, to 152 million pounds, or $266 million, from 174 million pounds, or $305 million, as Burberry moved away from wholesale channels. Sales in the U.S., Spain and the U.K. declined in the period.

However, emerging markets generated solid wholesale growth in the half because of five new franchises in places such as Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Cancún, Mexico, and Athens.

Income from licenses in the second half increased 5 percent, to 41 million pounds, or $72 million, from 39 million pounds, or $68 million, because of royalty rate increases in Japan, and global product licenses such as fragrance.

In the fourth quarter, Burberry launched a major new fragrance, Burberry London, which is entering most major consumer markets now. Cartwright said the fragrance campaign, which features Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz, has helped create a halo effect for Burberry sales overall.

For the full 2005-'06 fiscal year, retail sales rose 23 percent, to 325 million pounds, or $569 million, from 265 million pounds, or $464 million.

Wholesale sales declined 7 percent, to 347 million pounds, or $607 million, from 372 million pounds, or $651 million. Licensing revenue gained 4 percent, to 81 million pounds, or $142 million, from 78 million pounds, or $137 million.

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