H&M Hennes & Mauritz

PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz AB on Friday reported a 4 percent rise in first-quarter sales in local currencies, casting further light on the fast fashion retailer’s performance during the challenging holiday period.

For the Dec. 1 to Feb. 28 period, the Swedish fast-fashion retailer, which is undergoing a company-wide revamp to improve online services, reported sales of 51.01 billion Swedish kronor, or $5.49 billion, a 10 percent rise, with a positive currency rate effect.

Spanish rival Inditex, owner of Zara, reported a 7 percent increase in local currencies between Feb. 1 and March 9, and is projecting sales growth for the year of between 4 percent and 6 percent. 

Inditex has pushed ahead of rivals in the digital sphere, implementing high-tech sales and logistics systems, and opted out of the end-of-year price-slashing that swept much of the industry. The company is instead focusing on margins and keeping tight control over inventories, while it integrates stores with its online business.

H&M has in recent months redirected resources from expanding its store network to revisiting store formats, while investing heavily in technology to speed up deliveries and revamp its logistics systems for online commerce. Online growth rates of more traditional retailers like Inditex and H&M have exceeded pure play online peers, noted RBC in a recent research note on European apparel retail.

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