Clothing and textile producer Marimekko Group saw sales rise 5% in the first half of 2006, boosted by new stores established around the world.

Sales hit EUR32.9m (US$42.4m), while exports and income from international operations were up 25% to EUR7.9m.

Marimekko said new stores opened in locations including Antwerp, Tokyo, Lisbon and Malmö had provided "a significant boost" to business.

However, the group's operating profit fell 27.3% to EUR3.6m, with earnings weakened by slow sales growth in Finland, higher fixed costs and declining margins.

Marimekko said the business climate remained favourable in all its key markets, and expects export growth to continue, but also said that full-year net sales growth in Finland would be below expectations.