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By
AFP
Published
Mar 19, 2014
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Zara owner Inditex profit growth slows, stores expand

By
AFP
Published
Mar 19, 2014

MADRID, Spain - Spanish textile titan Inditex, owner of global fashion brand Zara, reported Wednesday slower profit growth in 2013 as it poured money into new stores, with up to 500 more to open this year.

Created 40 years ago in the northwestern Galicia region by the son of a railwayman, Amancio Ortega, the group boasted a worldwide empire of 6,340 stores in 87 markets at the end of its 2013 business year, which runs to January 31.

A Zara store in Sydney

Though Ortega, Spain's richest man and still Inditex's biggest shareholder, retired as chairman and chief executive in 2011, handing over to Pablo Isla, the group's philosophy of expanding with new stores and online sales has not wavered.

In 2013, Inditex's sales rose by 4.9 percent from the previous year to 16.72 billion euros ($23 billion), the group said in a statement.

But despite stressing "strict control of operating expenses", Inditex said business costs rose as it coped with a net 331 new store openings and higher sales in the year.

Net profits edged up by 0.6 percent from the previous year to 2.38 billion euros in 2013, it said.

That result represented a marked slowdown from the previous year, when sales soared 16 percent and net profit by 22 percent.

The new business year began with a sales spurt, however, Inditex added, with sales in local currency terms for the February 1-to-March 15 period rising 12 percent from a year earlier.

Investors welcomed the news, pushing Inditex shares 3.1 percent higher to 106.25 euros by mid-morning on the Madrid stock exchange.

Inditex, which besides Zara owns a string of retail brands including Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Urterque, said it had raised investments to 1.24 billion euros in 2013 from 1.09 billion euros the year before, "driven by retail space growth in the year".

The group said it expected to invest another 1.35 billion euros in 2014, mostly in new retail space.

Inditex planned 450-500 new openings and the absorption of 80-100 small units into neighbouring stores in the year ahead, it said.

The group said it began online sales in Greece in March and planned to launch them in Romania in April, and South Korea and Mexico later in the year.

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