The fashion retailer will double capital spending to $600 million in Europe Esprit Holdings plans to double capital outlays to more than $600 million, primarily to pay for new openings and store refurbishments in Europe. The clothing and fashion retailer unveiled its aggressive spending plan yesterday, after reporting net earnings for the year to June jumped 27.86 per cent to $1.18 billion - the highest since listing in 1993. The result was above market forecasts of $1.11 billion to $1.17 billion. The stronger than expected earnings were due mainly to 43 per cent sales growth in Europe, which accounted for 80 per cent of Esprit's $12.38 billion in revenue. The strengthening euro and lower taxes also helped the bottom line. A final dividend of 32.5 cents was proposed, along with a special dividend of 30 cents per share to celebrate the company's 10 years as a listed company. The group operates about 570 directly managed retail stores and has more than 6,000 wholesale outlets worldwide, occupying more than 400,000 square metres of retail space in more than 40 countries. Chief financial officer John Poon Cho-ming said the $600 million outlay included $400 million to finance new openings and upgrade existing shops, mostly in Europe. Another $100 million will be spent on new showrooms and global business headquarters in Ratingen, Germany, which is due to open next month. Germany, Esprit's biggest market, accounted for 55 per cent of its $7.07 billion in turnover from the wholesale business and 46 per cent of $5.11 billion in revenue from the retail division. Another $90 million would be spent to unify its information technology systems mainly used for merchandise planning and retail management, Mr Poon said. To expand its global reach, Esprit has signed up 500 'shop-in-stores', 100 partnership stores and plans to add about 24,000 square metres of directly managed stores in Europe. 'We also will accelerate retail and wholesale development in Britain,' Mr Poon said.