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H&M sees profits leap as it hits the global expansion trail again

SWEDISH retailer H&M yesterday said it would open 240 new stores this year in Europe, Asia and the US after net profits rose in 2009.

Group profit after tax rose by seven per cent to 16.38bn kronor (£1.39bn) compared to 15.3bn kronor in 2008.

H&M said most of the new stores will be in the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Italy.

But it will also open its first store in Seoul in the spring and a second one in the autumn. The company said it would also enter the Israeli market with stores in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. The group said in a statement: “H&M’s growth target is to increase the number of stores with 10-15 percent per year with continued high profitability.

“H&M remains positive towards the future expansion and the company’s business opportunities.”

The company, which employs 53,500 people, said sales excluding value-added tax amounted to 101.4bn kronor last year, an increase of 15 per cent compared to 2008. H&M said net profit rose by a better-than-expected 21 per cent in the fourth quarter.