Umbro moves from dependency on English shirts

Sportswear retailer Umbro said that it was confident of boosting sales of its branded football wear by 10 percent or more to become less dependent on the sale of its England football shirts. The company expects results in 2007 to meet forecasts with analysts expecting total wholesale licensed sales to be 40 percent lower than in the World Cup 2006.

"As long as we have got the England contract, there will always be an element of cyclicality," Finance Director Paul Masters told Kerstin Neuber of Reuters. The 2007 results could still take a hit if England do not qualify for next year's European Championship. If they do not qualify, it will affect this year and next year," he said.

International sales are less prone to the performance of the England team. "We have about 1,800 shops at the moment around the world and the target is to double that to 3,500 to 4,000 stores worldwide within the next 3 to 5 years," Master said. The primary focus will be on those markets where Umbro sees growth of the football market coming from - China, the United States, France, Italy, Brazil, Russia and the UK.