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H&M pushes on in UK

H&M said its UK sales were better than expected last year, and that the UK outperformed its other key European markets.

UK sales for the year to November 30 were up 10% in sterling, although this translated as flat when converted to Swedish krona, which was SEK7.3 billion (£613 million). In the fourth quarter, UK sales rose 9% in local currency, outperforming H&M’s other key markets in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Head of investor relations Nils Vinge said: “The UK market has been a lot better than expected considering the retail environment, and will continue to grow. The foundation is successful product selections, constant improvement and active marketing.”

UK sales were also boosted by store openings, with 17 stores opening during 2008, bringing the UK total to 146. Vinge said H&M would open stores in the UK at a similar pace this year.

Vinge added that the company was happy with the performance of its Divided store in Camden, north London, which opened last year. The shop was the first standalone concept for H&M’s denim sub-brand.

However, there are no plans for more. “We have decided the Divided concept works best within H&M stores,” said Vinge.

The group’s upmarket Cos concept, which has two London stores, is performing on target according to H&M, and another Cos store is planned for London’s Covent Garden this spring.

The group is also looking to expand its Weekday and Monki chains, which it bought from Fabric Scandinavien last March. However, there are no immediate plans for a UK retail launch of either.

Total group sales including VAT were up 13% to SEK 104bn (£8.7bn) for the year, with profit before tax up 11% to SEK 21bn (£1.7bn). However, group like-for-like sales were down 1% over the year and down 7% for December.

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