Spring merchandise drives performance
Profits at US accessories chain Claire's Stores soared 25 per cent to US$86.5 million (£43.5 million) in its fourth quarter to February 3, bolstered by new spring merchandise and gift card redemptions.

Sales rose 14 per cent to US$472.3 million (£237.4 million), compared with US$414.7 million (£208.5 million) for the same period last year.

Claire's co-chairman and co-chief executive officer Marla Schaefer said: 'Sales picked up over the long Thanksgiving weekend and then slowed until shortly before Christmas. In the weeks immediately following Christmas, [customers] came back to our stores to take advantage of January sales.'

The company also reported the resolution of an accounting issue relating to its stores in France, which had delayed the completion of its fiscal 2007 audit.

The improved figures will sweeten the deal for private equity group Apollo management, which is in the process of buying the company for an estimated US$3.1 billion (£1.56 billion).