Swedish fast fashion chain H&M saw profits rise in the full year to November 30, despite a fall in the fourth quarter.
Like-for-like sales rose by 1% over the 12 month period to SEK 120.8bn (£12bn) while sales in the fourth quarter increased by 9% overall to SEK 32.5bn (£3.2bn).
However profit after tax in the fourth quarter fell by 1.3% to SEK 5.28bn (£500m) down from SEK 5.35bn (£530m) in the same quarter the prior year.
Profit after tax for the full-year increased by 7% to SEK 16.9bn (£1.8bn) and the group opened 304 new stores in the period, with openings focused on China and the US.
The company statement noted that while sales had been strong overall, they were hit by very cold weather in Europe last January.
“H&M continues to stand strong in a challenging clothing market which in many countries has been even more challenging in 2012 compared to 2011,” said chief executive Karl-Johan Persson.
“The fact that we increased sales by 11% in local currencies and 1% in comparable units whilst continuing to gain market share proves once again that customers appreciate our collections, which offer a wide range of inspiring fashion for everyone.”
He noted that profits had been affected by long-term investment in online infrastructure, product broadening and the group’s new fascia & Other Stories.
“These long-term investments have created cost increases and to a great extent have not yet generated any revenue. However, we consider these investments to be both necessary and wise as they aim to secure future expansion and profits and thereby further strengthen H&M’s position,” Persson said.
H&M now plans to open another 325 stores in the current financial year with Chile, Estonia, Lithuania, Serbia and Indonesia (via franchise stores) all becoming new territories.
& Other Stories will open its first stores during spring 2013 in Spain, Germany, Denmark, UK, Italy, France and Sweden.