UPDATE 2-Luxury spending drives Michael Kors profit

Wed May 29, 2013 11:24am EDT
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* Expects to open 53 stores in North America, 40 in Europe, seven in Japan

* Fourth-quarter earnings/share $0.50 vs est $0.39

* Fourth-quarter net sales $577.4 mln vs est $548.2 mln

* Sees capex of about $230 million for FY14

May 29 (Reuters) - Upscale accessories maker Michael Kors Holdings Ltd reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as shoppers spend more on luxury goods, and the company said it would double the number of its stores in Europe, where its sales are booming.

The company, formed and owned by fashion designer Michael Kors, has grown at a blistering pace since it went public in 2011, underlining shoppers' appetite for luxury items even in a tough economy.

The Michael Kors brand, which was launched 30 years ago as a luxury sportswear house, is known for its pyramid-studded Saffiano leather handbags, watches and apparel that have been worn by Michelle Obama and celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez.

"Given how strongly our brand has performed in the market, how well it resonates with European consumers ... we have concluded that the retail store growth potential is greater than the hundred locations we initially targeted (in Europe)," Chief Executive John Idol said on a conference call.

Sales in Europe, where it plans to increase its store count by 40 to 84, rose about 97 percent to $73.1 million in the fourth quarter.   Continued...