Italian fashion group Mariella Burani on Tuesday said it had acquired a 50 per cent stake in German fashion house Rene Lezard Mode for $12 million as it looks to expand into Eastern Europe.

Burani said in a statement the German firm was founded 24 years ago and enjoyed sales of £73m in the fiscal year to the end of April which saw it post a net profit of $1.4m.

It added the acquisition would give it a base for expansion into Eastern Europe and Russia with co-founder Thomas Schaefer, who holds the other 50 per cent stake, continuing as chairman.

"By bringing into play existing synergies between the two companies, the entry of Rene Lezard into the Mariella Burani Group will contribute positively at group level from the first quarter of 2003," Burani said.

The German fashion house employs around 460 people and makes men’s and women’s fashions, accessories, eyewear and perfumes.