Zara owner Inditex sees first quarter profit jump 28%

Inditex founder now second richest person in the world

Inditex, the world's largest clothing retailer, said first-quarter profit rose 28 per cent, the fastest pace in more than two years, as the Zara owner opened more stores and benefited from the weak euro.

Net income rose to €521 million in the three months through April, Inditex said Wednesday.

The company signaled that revenue growth has accelerated slightly so far in the second quarter. Inditex has opened more than 400 stores annually on average over the past five years.

Sales in Spain, Inditex's largest market, continue to grow after a 5 percent increase in the past financial year, chief executive Pablo Isla said.

Revenue rose to €4.37 billion, exceeding the consensus for €4.33 billion, gaining 13 per cent excluding currency shifts. On that basis, sales rose 13.5 per cent in the February 1st to June 7th period.

Beating Buffett

A 27 per cent surge in Inditex's stock price this year has inflated 79-year-old founder Amancio Ortega's fortune to $71 billion. That makes him richer than Warren Buffett and second to Bill Gates, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Inditex stock dropped 0.8 per cent to €29.77 in early trading in Madrid. Among rivals, Hennes and Mauritz shares are little changed this year.

The company has more than 500 stores in China and 450 in Russia. The company operates in 88 countries overall.

Inditex’s gross margin widened to 59.4 per cent from 58.9 per cent. The company’s forecast is for a stable margin for the full year. The margin will probably be a bit higher in the first half and lower in the second due to currency shifts.

Among the brands that opened most stores in the quarter are Zara Home with 19 and Zara with 15. The company's brands also include Bershka and Massimo Dutti.


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