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[ November 21st 2001 ]

Shoe designer Jimmy Choo is branching out into luxury goods and hopes to have 25 shops worldwide in five years' time. He has struck a GBP21million deal with Equinox Luxury Holdings to expand his business into perfume, cosmetics, sunglasses and small leather goods.

The brand is aiming to rival the likes of Gucci and Prada, joining Burberry and Paul Smith as one of only a handful of British fashion names successfully to go global. The first new shop could be open by this time next year, with Paris, Milan and a second boutique in London top of the list. The firm's president Tamara Mellon said yesterday: "I think we can build the firm to become a large luxury goods company."

When Mrs Mellon, 32, joined the firm in 1996, Jimmy was designing two pairs of shoes a day by hand from a workshop in Hackney, East London. Now she has helped to put Choo on the map with shops in London, New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Fans of Jimmy's footwear include Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz - who wore Choo boots for the premiere of Charlie's Angels - Hilary Swank, Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett.

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