Umbro takes advantage of soaring China sales

Sportswear group Umbro, maker and sponsor of the England football team's kit, today revealed soaring sales in China and announced plans to treble the number of shops there from 1000 to 3000 in the next few years. Umbro, which already sponsors Futsal, China's popular indoor football league, as well as two of its top teams, saw sales in China leap 48% last year, making it the fastest growing market in the world. But excluding China, Asian sales fell 3.5%. Umbro has increased its stake in its Chinese partner from 25% to 40%.

"We've got very ambitious plans to really grow the business in China - eventually it will be our biggest market," Chief executive Peter McGuigan, who owns Morecambe football club, told the Evening Standard. Discounting a payment from Chelsea FC for early termination of a contract which flattered the 2005 figures, profits were up 15.7% at £26.6 million.