Upmarket designer label, Burberry, whose clothes are worn by models and celebrities like Kate Moss, has seen a huge leap in sales.

Figures show that the top label, owned by Great Universal Stores, has seen a 45 per cent increase in sales for the six months to March 31.

And the company, whose products are sold in 60 branded shops around the world, is predicting further growth with booming orders for autumn and winter ranges.

The revival in the Burberry label follows the arrival of its new chief executive, Rosemarie Bravo in 1997.

The news comes at an optimal time for GUS, which intends to take Burberry public some time this year. In December 2000, GUS announced plans to float up to 25 per cent of the fashion company.

According to analysts' estimates, GUS could reap as much as $1.5bn from a sale of Burberry. In the past year, luxury companies such as LVMH, Texas Pacific, Gucci and Prada have been reportedly eyeing Burberry as a potential acquisition target.

GUS's finance director David Tyler has confirmed he's been approached by interested buyers, but has often insisted that GUS has no plans of relinquishing its crown jewel.

It is not just Burberry that is performing well for GUS. Argos, also owned by GUS, is also reporting increased sales. Argos launched its Argos Additions clothing catalogue in January along with its jungle.com website both of which have helped to push Argos sales up by 15 per cent.

But it is not all good news for GUS. Its other catalogue business, UK Home Shopping, has seen a five per cent fall in sales.

By Deborah Bowyer