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Upgraded prints, own clothing label and new investor for Liberty


28 Feb 2014

ANALYSIS_ Quintessentially Londoner Liberty of London department store has reported rising sales and profit on strong trading during the winter. The private equity owned retailer posted unaudited sales for the year to February, 1 increased by 7 percent to 124 million pounds. Profits before financial

charges - or underlaying profit - are likely to surpass the 17.5 million pounds mark, according to the company. The performance was helped by 'double-digit' sales growth during December, while a push to boost internet sales saw online trading surge 86 percent year-on-year, reported the 'Daily Mail'.

Liberty, owned by private equity firm BlueGem, said that sales in its flagship London store rocketed by 11.2 percent due to a 5 percent increase of visitors to 4.5 million. Liberty granted documentary series Liberty of London which aired on Channel 4 in December, for being an important boost to improve their customer base.

New investor and refreshed trademark prints help Liberty flourish

BlueGem has recently sold an undisclosed share of the business to a group of investors, dubbed by Liberty in a statement as "some prominent and well established international families from Europe and the Middle East".

"These investors are long-term oriented and provide the company with significant stability of capital and a relevant network in the industry. BlueGem has retained a sizeable investment in the business and will continue to manage and support the company and the management team in the next stage of development," the upscale retailer added in a note earlier this week.

Both the identity of new investors and the size of the stake sold remain undisclosed although it has made public that BlueGem remains the majority shareholder.

Liberty was bought off the stock exchange by BlueGem Capital for 32 million pounds in 2010. Under its control sales have nearly doubled with the private equity firm, founded by a group of former Merrill Lynch bankers, recently selling a minority stake to international families from Europe and the Middle East for an undisclosed sum, according to data published by the 'Guardian'.

The store, which has an archive of 40,000 prints, said its fabric wholesale business had also done well with significant growth in markets such as South America and the Middle East and demand for bespoke designs from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chloé.

In the same vein, Liberty's famous prints have seen a revival thanks to the retailer's own brand clothing collections and collaborations with the likes of Nike and Barbour.