Esprit Holdings, the Hong Kong based fashion retailer, has enlisted 350 US stores to carry its clothes - up from the 270 it revealed in September. It says trials in these stores have been strong and that the full range should be on sale through licensees and department stores by early 2003.

The firm has also reported an 8 per cent rise in its German same-store sales between July and September. The figures are attributed to a good product mix and fast response to changing trends, and are particularly encouraging as the German market is fighting a sluggish economy.

Germany currently accounts for around half of Esprit's business. According to Heinz Krogner-Kornalik, deputy chairman and group chief executive officer, the company intends to increase its share of Germany's apparel market from 2.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent in the next four to five years.

Esprit says it is heading for a 20 per cent rise in turnover from Europe for the 12 months ending June 2003. Last year's group turnover was HK$9.22 billion (US$1.18 billion), with European sales contributing about 74 per cent.