Belfast Telegraph

River Island plots global growth

Fashion retailer River Island plans to expand its international footprint as it capitalises on the group's collaboration with pop star Rihanna.

The group, which launched the Rihanna for River Island collection in March, said it hopes to expand "at home and abroad" after recently growing its international reach to 14 countries.

It has set up a country specific website in Australia and is reportedly considering following in the footsteps of UK rival Topshop with a potential launch in the United States.

The company's growth ambitions follow robust recent trading at the group, which unveiled 2012 results showing a 12.5% hike in pre-tax profits to £97.8 million and a 0.4% rise in turnover.

Ben Lewis, the chief executive, said the performance "reflects the investment we have made in the business, and we look forward to further expansion at home and abroad".

Its Rihanna tie-up was one of the year's most keenly-awaited celebrity collections, debuting at London Fashion Week in February before launching in shops a month later.

The range has been designed to fit in with River Island's affordable high street fashion ethos, with 120 pieces in the spring/summer range starting from £18.

River Island has more than 320 stores in the UK, Ireland, Russia, Holland, Poland, Belgium, Middle East and Far East.

It opened 14 new stores - half in the UK and half overseas - and refitted eight shops last year and is ramping up its online offering, with a click and collect service launching this autumn.

But despite the buoyant profits performance, the group said the outlook "remains cautious".

River Island is owned by the Lewis family, and has a history dating back to 1948 when chairman Bernard Lewis started selling knitting wool from a shop in London.

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