SuperGroup eyes European push as sales rise
* Says well placed to meet FY market expectations
* Q4 total group sales up 15.3 pct to 86.8 mln stg
* Retail sales up 10.9 pct to 43.8 mln stg
* Wholesale up 20.2 pct to 43 mln stg
* Says to increase space growth in FY 2014
LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) - SuperGroup, the British company behind the Superdry fashion brand, posted a 15.3 percent rise in fourth-quarter sales and said it would increase its rate of expansion in 2014 as it develops its presence in Europe.
The group, whose fans include royal favourite Pippa Middleton, soccer player David Beckham and singer Ed Sheeran, said total sales of its trademark jackets, T-shirts and hooded tops rose to 86.8 million pounds ($135 million) in the 13 weeks to April 28.
That followed a 12.3 percent rise in third quarter sales.
Retail sales in the fourth quarter rose 11 percent to 43.8 million pounds, with sales at stores open a year up 5 percent. Wholesale sales were 43 million pounds, up 20.2 percent.
"We have delivered solid sales and profit growth this year," Chief Executive Julian Dunkerton said in a statement, adding the firm is in line to meet full-year market expectations.
"After a year of consolidation, financial year 2014 will see the group start to move back towards historic levels of space growth as it develops its European presence."
SuperGroup opened a total of 66,000 square feet during the year. It currently trades from 113 standalone stores in the UK and Europe, and 144 franchised and licensed stores globally.
To support its growth in Britain and online for the next five years, the firm said in April it would invest 5 million pounds in a new distribution centre to open at the end of its 2014 fiscal year. The unit will also deliver "significant" cost savings and improve operating margins, the company said.
Prior to Thursday's update, analysts were forecasting a full-year pretax profit of 49.5-53 million pounds, with a consensus of 51.2 million pounds.
Shares in SuperGroup, which have more than doubled in a year, closed at 720 pence on Wednesday, valuing the business at about 578 million pounds.