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Monsoon founder bags a £16.4m dividend

The founder of Monsoon has paid himself a dividend of £16.4m after the fashion chain more than tripled pre-tax profits last year.

Peter Simon, who established the retailer nearly 40 years ago, and his family have pocketed the bumper pay-out, which was up from a dividend of £14.7m in 2009.

It follows the fashion group, which also owns the Accessorize chain, delivering pre-tax profits of £98.2m for the year to 28 August 2010, compared to £27.9m the previous year, according to its latest accounts filed at Companies House.

The uplift was driven by a strong performance overseas and against the background of a challenging consumer spending environment in the UK. Monsoon, which has 1,152 stores globally and was a pioneer of boho-chic fashion, said it had a "successful trading period faced with a difficult and unpredictable economy. Cash generation remained robust and leaves the company in a strong financial position." Total sales rose by 4 per cent to £561.8m last year, but much of this increase came from the group' international operations. UK sales only rose by 1 per cent to £513.6m, while they soared by 50 per cent to £48.2m overseas.

Monsoon said it will "continue to consolidate and improve its UK store portfolio and web offering using internally generated funds". The group, which now trades in 62 countries, said it will "look for further opportunities [overseas]".

Mr Simon, the retailer's executive chairman, founded Monsoon in 1973 after selling items on the Portobello Road in London's Notting Hill that he described as "shaggy woollen coats and hand-block printed clothes" from Rajasthan in India.

After floating on the London Stock Exchange in 1998, he took it private in 2007 for the second time in a deal that valued the company at £775m.