UK-based Lee Cooper International is planning to increase its number of exclusive stores in India from 11 to 30 in the next two years, as well as launch an undergarment range.

According to Duncan Wilson, Lee Cooper International's managing director, India features in the company's Top 5 growth markets list.

Speaking during a recent visit to the country, Mr Wilson said Lee Cooper sees itself as a leading player in India in denim and footwear.

The brand currently sells through independents and department store chains as well as 11 exclusive Lee Cooper stores.

Mr Wilson said that compared to the ageing population in the mature western Europe markets, India's young and increasingly affluent consumers present a higher potential for casualwear and jeans.

But he added that it was a competitive market and there was little difference in the market share of the top-3 brands.

Lee Cooper apparel and footwear are produced by two exclusive licensees - Indus Clothing and M&B Footwear. The company also sources non-denim products from India for its UK operations.

60 per cent of the current apparel sales are contributed by denimwear, although the company is also planning to launch eyewear and undergarments.

Once the last independent jeanswear brand in the UK, Lee Cooper was bought by the discount retailer Matalan for £45 million in July 2001.