Fashion giant H&M to open more stores as profits soar

Swedish fashion giant H&M said on Wednesday net profits for 2014 rose almost a fifth and pledged to speed up its global expansion. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Swedish fashion giant H&M said on Wednesday net profits for 2014 rose almost a fifth and pledged to speed up its global expansion. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Swedish fashion giant H&M said on Wednesday net profits for 2014 rose almost a fifth and pledged to speed up its global expansion.

Net profits soared 17 per cent to 19.98 billion kronor (S$3.25 billion) while sales surged by 18 per cent to 176.62 billion kronor.

The strong earnings came on the back of a massive expansion, with the chain adding 379 stores mainly in the United States and China in 2014, bringing its total network to more than 3,500 outlets in 55 countries.

The company said it plans to open 400 more new stores this year, with India, South Africa, Taiwan and Peru among the targeted markets.

New online stores in France, Spain, Italy andoo China also posted strong returns, the group said, adding that similar launches are planned for eight European countries in 2015.

"2014 has been a very good year for H&M," chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said in a statement.

"Well-received collections for all our brands and continued strong expansion both in stores and online have helped increase our market share," Mr Persson said.

However, Mr Persson warned that a stronger dollar would cause costs to rise this year.