By  on December 11, 2008

PARIS — Inditex, the Spanish retailer that runs the Zara chain, said net income in the third quarter advanced 1 percent to 437 million euros, or $567.5 million, below most analysts’ estimates. The firm, which also runs the Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, Massimo Dutti and Oysho chains, said Thursday that sales in the quarter grew 11 percent to 2.79 billion euros, or $3.62 billion, as business contracted in the slowing Spanish economy. Pablo Isla, Inditex deputy chairman and chief executive officer, said sales growth in the quarter remained “positive” in Spain. Isla said sales in the first six weeks of the fourth quarter grew at a pace similar to that of the third quarter. “We are satisfied with the results, which were achieved against high comparables in a challenging business environment,” said Isla. “There are markets above the average,” said Isla, singling out Eastern Europe and Asia. “In Spain, our total sales remain positive, which is something we think is remarkable considering the global evolution of the Spanish market, which is decreasing [as a whole].” For the nine months, Inditex said net income increased 2 percent to 843 million euros, or $1.09 billion. Net sales in the nine months grew 11 percent to 7.35 billion euros, or $9.54 billion. Inditex said it operated 4,147 stores at the end of October. During the quarter, notable openings included a Zara store in Ginza, Tokyo, as well the first Zara store in Montenegro. Isla said growth in Russia remained strong and that the chain had doubled the number of stores in the country since the beginning of the year. He said Inditex was “very satisfied” with the reception of its new accessories chain, Uterqüe. “We have opened 24 Uterqüe stores since last July and the results are above our initial expectations,” said Isla, adding Inditex would continue to grow the chain next year. Shares in Inditex closed up 4.5 percent to 30.52 euros, or $40.28, in trading on the Madrid stock exchange.

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