NEW YORK — Inditex Group’s first-quarter profits expanded 20 percent on strong sales and gross margin gains.

For the three months ended April 30, the Arteixo, Spain-based operator of the Zara’s, Bershka and Oysho nameplates, among others, reported net income of 98.5 million euros, or 16 euro cents a share, versus 82.1 million, or 13 euro cents, a year ago. In dollars, earnings were $121.1 million, or 19 cents, up from $88.7 million, or 14 cents, last year. Euros have been converted to dollars at average exchange for the corresponding periods.

Net sales for the quarter advanced 22.9 percent to 1.2 billion euros, or $1.48 billion, from 979.4 million euros, or $1.06 billion, a year ago. At constant currency, sales would have increased 24 percent, the company said in a statement.

Inditex attributed the sales growth to store openings and higher comparable-store sales. By quarter’s end, the company operated 349 more stores than in the prior-year period — 61 of which were opened in the first quarter — for a total a 1,983. For the full fiscal year, Inditex anticipates opening another 315 to 365 stores, led by Zara, which is slated to add 105 to 115 doors worldwide.

Also aiding the bottom line was an increase in gross margin to 52 percent of sales. Although that’s far above the industry average, Inditex said that it is focused on boosting its gross margin even further.

— Dan Burrows

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