Clothing retailer Austin Reed Group Plc today said retail sales in the first 16 weeks of its financial year are four per cent ahead of the same period a year ago.

The company reported a 21 per cent jump in annual profits in mid-April and said it had made a strong start to the new year.

This includes expansion of the Country Casuals Petite collection and the launch of the Austin Reed golf range.

In addition, Austin Reed has signed a new license for sportswear in the US, and an international license for men's and women's fragrance and toiletries - both of which will be launched this autumn.