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Burberry second half boosted by China demand

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

LONDON (Reuters) - Luxury group Burberry <BRBY.L> posted a 10 percent rise in fourth quarter revenue as strong demand for its more expensive products in China helped it beat sales forecasts for the second half of the year.

The seller of raincoats and leather goods, known for its camel, red and black check pattern, said on Wednesday fourth quarter group sales rose to 503 million pounds, building on better than expected third quarter results after a strong Christmas period.

That took revenue for the six months to March 31 to 1.116 billion pounds, ahead of a company-compiled average analyst forecast of 1.098 billion pounds.

Last September, Burberry shook the global luxury industry by warning of a spending slowdown, particularly in China - the driving force behind demand in recent years - but it has been more upbeat recently, highlighting a rebound in Chinese demand while posting third quarter sales in January.

Retail sales, which make up 75 percent of group revenue, grew 14 percent to 376 million pounds in its fourth quarter, Burberry said, as higher average spend helped offset lower numbers of shoppers.

Comparable store sales increased by 7 percent, including double-digit rises in China and Hong Kong. It said it expected net new openings to deliver low to mid single digit increase in retail revenue in its 2013/14 year.

Second-half wholesale revenue - or sales through non-Burberry stores - fell 3 percent, as expected, due to smaller firms struggling in weak European markets where tourist spending has also shown signs of slowing. Excluding its beauty division, Burberry said it expects underlying wholesale revenue to decrease by about 10 percent in the six months to September 30, 2013.

Earlier this month, over half of 23 brands surveyed by Reuters at stores in London, Paris and Milan - including Gucci, Hermes and Jimmy Choo - reported lower demand from tourists, notably from Asia.

This week the owner of luxury brand Louis Vuitton LVMH <LVMH.PA> posted the lowest quarterly sales growth since 2009 at its fashion and leather division, while Italian fashion house Prada SpA <1913.HK> has outlined plans to expand in the Middle East and the Americas to help offset lower spending in Europe.

Shares in Burberry, whose spring/summer campaign is being modelled by Briton Cara Delevingne and David Beckham's son, Romeo, closed at 1,266 pence on Tuesday, down 8 percent on three months ago, valuing the business at around 5.6 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Neil Maidment; editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130417/burberry-second-half-revenue-9-percent