Lush ups growth plans with hunt for 20 UK sites

Fresh cosmetics group Lush is enjoying the sweet soapy smell of success and will embark on an ambitious worldwide store roll-out this year. Openings are planned for the UK, Japan and Spain.

A property team has been appointed to scout new locations, and chief executive Andrew Gerrie said he wants to add 20 to Lush's UK store tally of 41.

Some 50 potential premises have been identified in Japan - Lush's second largest market - and Gerrie would like the 15-store presence there to double within 12 to 18 months.

Gerrie said: 'We have tried to put more emphasis on the property side of the business. I used to do most of the work myself, but we've recognised the need for a property strategy.'

By making it big in Japan the Poole-based retailer has bucked the country's discount-and-luxury model of consumption. Whereas rival Boots the Chemists withdrew following poor sales, Lush continues to prosper, with sales expected to top£8.2 million this financial year.

The only difficulty has been acquiring new properties in Japan, because of a lack of infrastructure within the property sector there.

Lush's first outlet in conjunction with a Spanish partner will open in Madrid's Bluewater-style shopping centre, Xanadu, in May.

A second Madrid outlet is planned for next year.

The eco-friendly retailer made a profit of£3 million on a£29 million turnover to June last year, with£4 million forecast this year.