Retail giant Inditex bucks trend with sharp rise in profits


CLOTHES:SPAIN’S INDITEX, the world’s largest clothes retailer, bucked Europe’s financial crisis with a sharp rise in quarterly earnings by pleasing fashion-hungry shoppers in Asia and cash-strapped consumers on its home continent.

The owner of Zara stores and seven other brands, including upmarket Massimo Dutti, beat forecasts yesterday with a 30 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit to 432 million euros ($538 million) and sales of €3.4 billion. “When you think of what is going on with the euro crisis, it’s amazing,” said Société Générale analyst Anne Critchlow. “It highlights the lack of Inditex’s reliance on southern Europe.”

Inditex shares were up 8.02 per cent at €73, making it the most valuable company on the Spanish stock exchange, overtaking established heavyweights Telefónica and Banco Santander. Inditex, which runs more than 5,600 stores across 84 markets, still makes about a quarter of sales in its home country and three-quarters in Europe, but Société Générale estimates this year it will reduce its sales in Spain to about 22 per cent, increasing those from emerging markets such as China to 45 per cent.

Inditex opened 91 new stores between February and April, with a new store every three days in China, where it will launch its Zara label online in September. – (Bloomberg)