Strong profits for clothing retailer H&M

The Swedish high-street clothing chain H&M reported a surge in first-quarter profit on Thursday, saying that an aggressive drive into world markets was paying off.

From December to February net profit rose by 27.7 percent from the figure twelve months earlier to 2.941 billion kronor ($ 493.5 million).

In the second quarter the company would increase its international presence, planning to open 54 shops, most of them in Britain, the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany, and to close four.

In the first quarter the group had opened 11 shops and closed four and at the end of February had a total of 1,529 shops throughout the world compared with 1,351 twelve months earlier.

Sales rose by 17.9 percent to 23.24 billion kronor, including sales tax.

Excluding this tax, sales totaled 19.74 billion kronor, exceeding the average estimate by analysts of 19.32 billion kronor.

H&M said that the strong trend of sales was the result of well-chosen clothing ranges, and increased sales on the Internet and via catalogues and international expansion.