Fashion chain Ted Baker has started its Asian expansion and simultaneously reported increased first-half pre-tax profits.

The company has opened up its first store in Hong Kong and is now planning for openings in Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta over the next six months.

Ted Baker is also working to expand distribution throughout its domestic UK market, opening four concessions since the half year and planning a further three plus a store in Bath by the year-end.

For the first six months to 12 August, pre-tax profits were GBP7m (US$13.19m), an 11% rise from last year, thanks to increases at both retail and wholesale.

Group revenue grew 6.9% to GBP61.1m while retail sales increased 10.4% and wholesale sales edged up 1.1%.

Results were also boosted by the opening of the firm's second-biggest US store in Southern California.

Founder and chief executive Ray Kelvin said: "We are encouraged by the positive reactions from our customers to the autumn/winter 2006 collections.

"We continue with our planned expansion of the brand into the US, the Far East and Asia and I am pleased to announce the opening of the first store in Hong Kong yesterday."

Kelvin added that the second half had begun well and that the company was "confident of a positive outcome for the year".