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Dec 14, 2016
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Zara owner Inditex's sales growth speeds up despite warmer autumn

Dec 14, 2016

Inditex, the world's biggest clothing retailer and owner of Zara, reported a 9 percent rise in nine-month profit on Wednesday and sales growth accelerated in recent weeks, despite warmer than usual autumn weather in many European countries.

As its fashion peers struggle to adapt to changing consumer tastes, with Abercrombie & Fitch and Gap posting dismal fourth-quarter sales last month, Inditex's fast-fashion business and online prowess have kept it ahead.

Zara is Inditex's star chain - archiv

Inditex is known for speedily reacting to changing trends and weather by keeping its manufacturing bases close to its distribution centre in the northern Spanish region of Galicia. Items are designed, made and shipped to stores often in less than a month, which boosts its profitability.

Items such velvet dresses, military blazers and mini skirts helped push sales up 14.5 percent in local currencies in the nine months to October 31.

Net profit was up 9 percent at €2.2 billion ($2.3 billion), while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 8.4 percent at €3.6 billion, both results in line with analysts' forecasts, according to a Reuters poll.

With over 7,200 stores in 93 national markets, the company has continued to shift away from many new store openings as its primary driver of growth, instead setting up large flagship stores in key locations and tying in its online business.

Other retailers have struggled to catch up with Inditex's online presence, which is now in 41 markets after launching it in Turkey in October. Apart from Zara, its brands include younger fashion chain Pull&Bear and upmarket label Massimo Dutti.

Analysts also expect it's next biggest rival H&M, to have been hit by the warmer weather in autumn as it failed to swap out its collections of cold-weather items to attract shoppers.

Between November and mid-December, Inditex's sales growth accelerated to 16 percent from a year before, implying growth of 10.5 percent once the effect of new store openings is stripped out, according to analysts from Bernstein.

This compares with H&M's reported 10 percent year-on-year increase in local-currency sales in October. H&M reports November sales on Dec. 15 and fourth-quarter results on Jan. 31.

So far this year Inditex's margins, reported in euros, have been affected by negative foreign currency swings in Britain, Mexico and China. But any impact was off-set by the acceleration in its online sales and store expansion strategy, analysts said.


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