UPDATE 1-Ted Baker cheers Christmas as sales rise
* Retail sales up 20.9 pct in 8 weeks to Jan. 5
* Average retail square footage up 13.9 pct
* Board sees FY pretax profit in line with expectations
* Names David Bernstein as new chairman
LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - British designer clothing brand Ted Baker said it would meet forecasts for annual profit after a big jump in Christmas sales placed it among the year's festive winners.
The high-end High Street designer, known for its classic cuts with quirky details, said on Wednesday its retail sales rose 20.9 percent in the eight weeks to Jan. 5, driven in part by a 13.9 percent increase in new space.
As in previous years it said there was no significant promotional activity before Christmas and that gross margins were in line with expectations.
Many European retailers have struggled as inflation, muted wages growth and government austerity measures squeeze household budgets, but Ted Baker has notched up solid growth by tapping fast-growing demand in the U.S. and Asia, and at home despite tough high street conditions.
The firm added that Robert Breare had stepped down as non-executive chairman after more than 11 years in the role and would be replaced immediately by current senior independent non-executive director David Bernstein.
Ted Baker is on average expected to report a full-year pretax profit of 31.50 million pounds ($50.52 million) according to a Reuters poll of 7 analysts. It delivered an adjusted pretax profit of 27.1 million pounds for 2011/12.
Shares in the FTSE 250 listed firm closed at 1162 pence on Tuesday, up 78 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at around 500 million pounds.
For a FACTBOX-How UK retailers fared over Christmas, please click on: ($1 = 0.6235 British pounds)