H&M 27% Rise in First-Quarter Net Profit

Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz said Wednesday its net profit rose 27% during the first quarter as its continued expansion helped boost sales.

The company said its net profit for the three months ending Feb. 28 was 2.3 billion kronor (247 million euros; $330 million), or 2.78 kronor (0.30 euros; $0.40) per share, compared with 1.8 billion kronor, or 2.19 kronor per share, for the same period last year.

Sales during the quarter were up 11% at nearly 16.8 billion kronor (1.8 billion euros; $2.4 billion), although the increase was dragged down by a strong Swedish krona, the company said. In local currencies, sales rose 16%, H&M said in a statement.

The Stockholm-based company also said a weaker U.S. dollar, along with an improved buying process and fewer price reductions, helped boost its margins.

H&M said it plans to continue its rapid expansion, opening 75 new stores during the second quarter. Most of the new stores will open in the U.S., Britain, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland, the company said.

By the end of the quarter, H&M operated 1,351 stores around the world, having added 155 stores during the past year.