By  on December 13, 2006

PARIS — Inditex, the Spanish fast-fashion group, on Wednesday reported better than expected third-quarter profits and said it would double the number of its stores in the U.S. over the next three years.

Net income rose 23.8 percent, to 339 million euros, or $431.3 million, in the three months through Oct. 31, the company said. Sales grew 19.5 percent, to 2.19 billion euros, or $2.79 billion, as Inditex continued to develop its main Zara chain. Currency conversions were made at average exchange rates for the period.

Chief executive officer Pablo Isla told a conference call that sales in the first six weeks of the fourth quarter had been “on line” with expectations.

Through the nine months, Isla said gross margin reached 3.19 billion euros, or $3.98 billion, or 56.4 percent on sales.He confirmed the chain’s ambition to open as many as 490 stores over the full fiscal year at an investment of as much as 950 million euros, or $1.21 billion.

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