US designer denim brand True Religion is to kick off a European standalone store opening programme with a London opening planned for this year.

True Religion is sold in high-end multi-brand shops in the UK and through concessions in department stores Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges in London, but US parent company True Religion Apparel had not moved into standalone stores here.

The business is now preparing to open its first store on James Street in Covent Garden this November and is set to roll out a further three next year, including in Westfield London and Carnaby Street.

The three stores planned for 2010 will also be backed up by an increased concession presence, with sites in department stores in Birmingham and Manchester also thought to be under consideration.

It is understood that the brand has ambitions to open about 10 stores in the UK. After the initial roll-out True Religion will consider moving into continental Europe and will target major cities such
as Paris.

True Religion sells upmarket jeans at about £250 a pair and has received celebrity backing from Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and Black Eyed Peas.

Founded in Los Angeles in 2002, True Religion operates about 60 stores in the US and is widely traded through multiple concessions.

True Religion Apparel recorded net sales of $63.6m (£39.5m) in the first quarter to March 31, up 19.1 per cent in the same period last year. Operating income was up 15 per cent to Story text3.1m (£8.1m).

True Religion has appointed property agency CWM to oversee its store roll-out. Neither CWM nor True Religion was available for comment.