PARIS — Strong demand for ready-to-wear and accessories at its fast-growing network of boutiques helped Christian Dior Couture achieve 18 percent sales growth last year, to $312 million.

Elaborating on 2001 results released late last week by Dior’s parent company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Dior president Sidney Toledano said: “There’s a real momentum right now. For January, we are continuing on the same trend and this is despite the lack of tourists. When the tourist business comes back, we expect even bigger increases.”

Dior opened some 20 boutiques last year to bring its store count to 117 and will keep up the pace this year, with locations in Madrid and Rome bowing in the first quarter, Toledano said. Also, the first Dior Homme boutique in the world is slated to open in late February in Milan.

Toledano said Dior actually picked up speed in the second half of 2001, with fourth-quarter sales vaulting 24 percent. The strongest regions were Japan, Southeast Asia and Europe, with America rebounding in November and December, he added.