Crystal giftware and jewellery retailer Swarovski will begin a growth phase this year, with the introduction of its first fashion sub-brand and more stores.

Swarovski’s European sales were €265 million (£177 million) last year, but should increase by 15 per cent this year on the back of the push, according to vice president of consumer goods for Europe Markus Ludescher.

In the UK, fashion brand Out of Africa will appear in Swarovski wholly-owned shops in August, taking about 25 per cent of space. A themed launch will be introduced every six months from next spring.

The strategy kicks in as Swarovski continues its drive into retail, spearheaded by the UK stores. The brand’s biggest European market is Italy, but Britain is a fast-expanding number two, accounting for sales of£40 million.

‘I think we can replicate the success we’ve seen in the UK in all countries, but it will take more time in some than others. Usually we say the further you go north, the more difficult it becomes,’ said Ludescher.

There are 18 wholly- owned Swarovski stores in the UK. Two ‘premium independent’ stores, run on a partnership basis with local retailers, opened this year at Stratford-upon-Avon and Guildford.

More wholly-owned shops are planned, but there will be a focus on independent outlets too, with up to 10 more opening in 2005. There are also 25 concessions.

Swarovski’s global sales are more than €1 billion (£669 million), with significant revenue from Asia and the US.