Spanish retailer Cortefiel has topped forecasts with a 107 per cent increase in net profit for 2004 as cheap Asian manufacturing and less markdowns pushed up margins.

The company said profit rose to €62.2 million for the year. Gross margin grew 4.5 per cent to 55.6 per cent.

Full-year sales rose 5.4 per cent to €971.3m, while same-store sales grew 3 per cent.

Cortefiel plans to open 86 stores in 2005 at a cost of around €50m and says it will carry on growing franchise activities in markets where it is already established.

The company says it will also consider domestic and international acquisition opportunities, and won't rule out expansion to new countries.

Cortefiel's chairman and chief executive officer Gonzalo Hinojosa said. "We plan to continue improving gross margins thanks to the elimination of quotas on China."

The company - Spain's second-biggest clothing retailer - recently turned down buyout interest from private equity company CVC Capital Partners Ltd, saying it was not currently looking to sell the company. However, it said it would consider future offers as they came.
Cortefiel operates Springfield and Cortefiel as its core divisions and currently has approximately 730 stores throughout 15 countries.