Zara owner Inditex to slow down store openings as consumers shift online

 
Kasmira Jefford
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Zara Sydney Store Opening
Inditex said it will be available online in all European markets by the end of 2016 (Source: Getty)

Inditex shares rallied this morning after the world's largest fashion retailer posted a strong start to the year and said it will be slowing down the pace of store openings as consumers shop increasingly online.

The Zara and Massimo Dutti owner said it plans to grow store space by six to eight per cent in the coming year compared with eight per cent in 2015 and down from its previous guidance of eight to 10 per cent.

New store openings will be focused on prime city centre locations such as its Zara stores on Oxford Street and its newly opened Zara store in Manhattan's SoHo district in New York.

Chairman and chief executive Pablo Isla told reporters that the group did not separate online sales from store figures because they were complementary, with net sales for 2015 rising by 15.4 per cent to €20.9bn.

Inditex's net profit rose by 15 per cent to €2.9bn, boosted by the relative weakness of the euro against other currencies and cost savings.

Sales for the first five weeks of the financial year to 7 March increased by 15 per cent, beating analyst expectations and sales growth at its closest rival H&M, which rose by seven per cent in January.

At the end of the year, Inditex operated 7,013 stores in 88 markets after opening new sites in 56 different markets. The group expects to open around 400-460 new stores this year and expand into five new markets comprising of Vietnam, New Zealand, Paraguay, Aruba and Nicaragua.

Over the course of 2016 all Inditex brands will be available to shop online in all European markets and Turkey, the company said.

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