Hennes & Mauritz AB, Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, reported fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as the company added stores in China and the U.S. and expanded its collection. Net income rose to 6.22 billion kronor ($760 million) in the three months through November, the Stockholm-based company said in a statement today. The average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg was 6.17 billion kronor. This year “has gotten off to a good start, with strong sales in both December and January,” Chief Executive Officer Karl-Johan Persson said in the statement. The stronger U.S. dollar will affect the company’s sourcing costs, he added.
H&M is expanding online while also broadening its offer with an extended range of shoes and sportswear as the company tries to fend off competition from Web rivals including Asos Plc and budget retailers such as Primark. The Swedish retailer in November sold a guest collection by designer Alexander Wang, Balenciaga’s creative director. The company plans to start a new range called H&M Beauty with make-up and personal-care products later this year, it said today, and targets a new opening of around 400 new stores in the current fiscal year.
Fourth-quarter sales, excluding taxes, increased 17 percent to to 42.6 billion kronor, H&M said Dec. 15. Inditex SA, Europe’s biggest clothing retailer, said last month that profit rose 0.8 percent in the nine months through October as mild fall weather damped sales.