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Profits on the rise at Sweden's H&M

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08:47 CET+01:00
Sweden's cheap'n chic fashion chain H&M on Thursday reported strong profit gains for the fourth quarter, bringing a welcome change to the stream of otherwise gloomy economic news.

Hennes & Mauritz said its year to November 2008 net profit rose 12.5 percent from a year earlier to 15.29 billion kronor ($ 1.89 billion) with sales up 13 percent at 88.53 billion kronor.

For the three months to November, net profit rose 9.4 percent to 5.08 billion kronor on sales of 26.3 billion kronor, up 15.3 percent.

The company, known for its cheap but fashionable clothing, said growth and development opportunities were positive and it expected to create between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs in the current year.

"The figures in general were better than expected," Anders Wiklund, analyst at Evli bank, told AFP:

"I think they will (do) quite well because the low price strategy will benefit them. People who ... have been shopping in more expensive stores will move down to H&M's stores," Wiklund said, adding, however, that the first quarter of this year "could be quite tough."

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