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Ted Baker clears the shelves at Christmas

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Designer brand Ted Baker (LON:TED) had a storming Christmas trading period, with retail sales up sharply.

In the eight weeks from 11 November the fashion chain saw retail sales up 20.9% from the corresponding period a year earlier, helped by new selling space, which grew 13.9% from a year earlier.

Demand for the brand held up well with no significant promotional activity ahead of the Christmas trading period, and gross margins were in line with expectations.

Shoppers looking to pick up some bargains in a New Year’s clearance sale might be disappointed as the group said it ended the season with a clean stock position.

On the back of this trading performance the board said full year profit before taxation should be in line with expectations.

“We were pleased by the performance in markets where the brand is established and continue to build brand awareness in our newer markets, where we are investing for the longer term,” said Ray Kelvin, chief executive of the group.

Ted Baker said the group continues to make good progress in the US where it is building brand awareness, while in Asia, where the company is dipping its toe in the waters, it has been encouraged by the initial response to the brand and collections.

“We remain focused on the continued development of the brand globally with further store openings planned in Shanghai, China in the first half of 2013,” Kelvin revealed.

City broker Espirito Santo said Ted Baker had "delivered another excellent performance", following on from 24.6% growth in the chain's third quarter.

As a result, the broker has increased its second half retail sales growth forecast from 18.0% to 22.8%. This drives a 3% increase in Espirito Santo's full-year fiscal 2013 earnings per share estimate, with the increase feeding through to later years as well.

Espirito Santo now places a fair value of 1150p on Ted Baker, up from 1100p previously, but given the recent strong share price performance it moves from 'buy' to 'neutral'.

In a separate announcement, the company revealed that its chairman, Robert Breare, will be getting his coat after 11 years in the role.

He will be succeeded with immediate effect by David Bernstein, currently the senior independent non-executive director.

Bernstein is a retail veteran, having previously been joint managing director of Pentland Group and chairman of both Blacks Leisure and French Connection.

Ron Stewart, an independent non-executive director since 2009, will now become senior independent non-executive director and Anne Sheinfield, an independent non-executive director since 2010, will become chairman of the Remuneration Committee.

The shares were up 9p to 1,171p in mid-morning trading.

Quick facts: Ted Baker plc

Price: 319 GBX

LSE:TED
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £142.17 m
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