Leading marketer of luxury leather goods, Coach Inc, on Tuesday posted a 117 per cent year-on-year leap in third quarter net profit on the back of soaring sales.

Coach said net income rose rocketed to $31.9 million, or 34 cents per share, from $14.7m, or 16 cents per share, in 2002, as net sales soared 36 per cent to $220.4m from $161.6m.

The New York-based company said its profit and sales growth was driven by strong demand for its Spring offerings, as well as strong business in Japan, where its locations posted double-digit sales gains.

Direct to consumer sales, which consist primarily of sales at US Coach stores, rose 30 per cent to $121.6m from $93.9m last year.

Comparable store sales for the quarter rose 14.1 per cent, with retail stores up 25.5 per cent and factory store sales up 2.4 per cent.

Indirect sales rose 46 per cent to $98.8m from $67.7m with all indirect businesses, including Coach Japan, international wholesale, US department stores and special markets, contributing to that rise.

The operator of 150 retail stores and 75 factory stores as well as 92 stores in Japan also raised its fiscal 2003 guidance to earnings of at least $1.54 a share and sales of $935m, representing growth of about 30 per cent.

Coach said those estimates are based on fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of at least 28 cents a share and sales of at least $215m.

For fiscal 2004, Coach anticipates earnings of at least $1.80 a share, operating income growth of about 20 per cent and sales growth of at least 15 per cent.

Coach chairman and CEO, Lew Frankfort, said: "Our strong third quarter sales reflect sustained momentum and market share gains in all channels of our business. These results again demonstrate the vitality of Coach and speak to our unique proposition, as America's leading accessible luxury accessories brand.

"This month our momentum is continuing in Coach US retail stores, US department stores and locations in Japan, despite the events around us.

"Clearly, the fact that we derive nearly 90 per cent of our business from the local consumer, whether in the US or Japan, helps to insulate us from the volatility in international travel.

"We're well positioned to sustain accelerated growth through the rest of this quarter, fuelled by new product introductions and a growing customer base pre-disposed to purchase Coach."