PARIS – Spain’s Inditex SA, the owner of the Zara retail chain, said net profit rose 42 percent in the first nine months of its 2010 fiscal year as the group continued its rapid expansion in Asia and rolled out its Zara online store across Europe.
Europe’s largest clothing retailer posted net profit of 1.18 billion euros, or $1.55 billion, between Feb. 1 and Oct. 31.
Sales totaled 8.87 billion euros, or $11.64 billion, up 14 percent versus the same period last year. Dollar figures are converted from euros at average exchange rates for the period in question.
The gross margin stood at 59.9 percent of sales, up from 57.1 percent in the first nine months of fiscal 2009. Store sales in local currencies climbed 10 percent year-on-year between Aug. 1 and Dec. 12.
Based in Arteixo in northwest Spain, Inditex continued its rapid pace of store expansion during the nine-month period with 300 new units in 45 countries under its various banners, including Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius and Pull&Bear. As of Oct. 31, it operated 4,907 stores in 77 countries.
The group last week unveiled its 5,000th store, a Zara unit in Rome that it has designated as a benchmark for its plan to make all its stores eco-efficient by 2020.
It introduced online shopping for Zara in six European countries in September, making the service available in five additional countries in November. In 2011, Zara.com is scheduled to be launched in the United States and Japan, while the first Zara stores will open in South Africa and Australia.