Football kit maker Umbro saw record demand from shops for England football shirts ahead of the World Cup.

A fevered build-up to the World Cup meant demand for the red away kit - made legendary by England's World Cup win in 1966 - sent sales to stores in the UK and abroad in the first six months of the year to a record £247m.

That was 41% higher than last year and 26% higher than in 2004 when business was boosted by England's participation in the European Championships.

Umbro has made England football kit for decades, including in 1966, and sales of replica shirts are always higher in World Cup or European Championship years.

An Umbro spokesman said: 'The red shirt nearly always outsells the white home shirt because of the success of the England team in 1966 when it won the World Cup wearing red.'

Umbro said it sold 150,000 red England shirts designed for women in the run up to the World Cup, making it the most popular women's shirt it has ever made. t said other England products, such as training tops, polo shirts, bags and caps, were also in strong demand.

Umbro chief executive Peter McGuigan said: 'We are pleased with Umbro's performance to date. The World Cup has given the brand unparalleled exposure and we look forward to capitalising on that with the introduction of new product ranges and initiatives in the coming months. We remain confident about the future."

Analyst Rhys Williams, of stockbrokers Seymour Pierce, said sales in the first half of the year were 'in line with expectations'. But he warned of a downturn for the rest of the year and next year after the high of the World Cup.

'While this year we expect profits to significantly move forward, next year Umbro will struggle to maintain this level and we continue to forecast a fall back,' said Mr Williams.

Away from the World Cup, Umbro today said it had received compensation of £24.5m from Chelsea FC after the Premiership champions ended their kit deal with the firm five years early in favour of a contract with rival Adidas. It said international sales and royalty income continued to grow in Europe, Asia and Latin America, but sales to Footlocker in the United States were down.


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