Mulberry sales up 44% as British label is set to open nine more stores

Recession-proof fashion: Mulberry sales up 44% as British label is set to open nine new stores

While the rest of the world experiences economic gloom, Mulberry has a somewhat more cheerful financial outlook.

The group posted a 44 per cent increase in retail sales as customers were desperate to get their hands on the new autumn/winter collection both at home and abroad.

The label has become increasingly popular since Emma Hill took over as creative director and counting the Duchess of Cambridge as a fan, their success this year has soared to new heights.

Travel Day Bag Travel Day Bag Green

Moneybags: Mulberry has been a huge hit this year as sales continue to soar

Mulberry

The label has 86 stores and concessions worldwide, including 44 in the UK and plans to open nine new stores next year

Mulberry has 86 stores and concessions worldwide, including 44 in the UK and plans to open nine new stores next year.

Mulberry

At this autumn”s London Fashion Week, critics praised Mulberry”s latest offerings, which were inspired by great British summers on the coast

The group, founded in 1971, has benefited from seemingly insatiable demand for its goods, including the Alexa handbag, named after television presenter Alexa Chung.

Godfrey Davis, chairman and chief executive, said: “Our strategy to focus on international expansion continues to bear fruit.

“Against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, Mulberry continues to build market share internationally and we remain cautiously optimistic about the future prospects of the business.”

Its order book for the spring and summer is already a third higher than for the whole of last summer and with the company recently opening a flagship store in New York”s trendy Soho district and US sales growing by 82%, demand for the Somerset-based firm”s products is on course to flourish.

Ms Hill”s contribution to Mulberry has been significant and it has seen her win design awards at the Glamour Women of the Year event in 2010 and the Elle Style Awards in 2011.

At this autumn”s London Fashion Week, critics praised Mulberry”s latest offerings, which were inspired by great British summers on the coast

The recent success means that Mulberry is expanding its factory, The Rookery, to keep up with demand after revenues increased 62% in the last financial year.

Blake Lively  Kate Moss

The in-crowd: Fans include Blake Lively and Kate Moss

Five years ago, there were around 100 people working on the factory floor in Chilcompton, Somerset, but a 2 million expansion has increased the brand”s UK manufacturing capacity by30% and means it now employs around 250 artisans and trainees, with themajority living within a five-mile radius.

The factory is also where Mulberry trains eight apprentices every year in leather goods manufacturing.

The luxury marque, which calls itself “Britain”s first lifestyle brand”, was born in 1971 and began by designing belts and chokers.

The Duchess of Cambridge

The Kate effect: The Duchess of Cambridge wore a Mulberry dress last week

Mulberry

The brand has expanded since creative director Emma Hill took over in 2008

Alexa Chung attends the Mulberry 40th Anniversary celebration

Muse: Alexa Chung attends the Mulberry 40th Anniversary celebration

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Mulberry”s quintessentially English style inspired by country pursuits produced collections such as quilted fishing bags, poacher bags and jackets.

In 2002, it launched its Bayswater bag, which remains one of the brand”s best selling products, while other highlights since the arrival of Ms Hill in February 2008 have included the Mitzy and Daria collection of bags.

It is the mix of rural and urban, coupled with the emphasis the brand places on craftsmanship, which has attracted celebrity fans as diverse as the Duchess of Cambridge and Twilight actress Kristen Stewart.

Coupled with the continued growth of Burberry, the rise of Mulberry represents another major success story for the British industry as the pair create “le style Anglais” on the global fashion stage.

Burberry, with half-year revenues up by 30% in October, has been particularly helped by bumper sales in its Chinese outlets.

Commentators say the success is partly due to the brands taking pride in their roots and not trying to “ape the French or Italian It bags”.