Inditex profit soars thanks to Asia boom

SPAIN’S Inditex, the world’s largest fashion retailer and owner of the high street Zara chain, yesterday reported a surge in profit and plans to continue its march into Asia.

The company posted a 33 per cent increase in overall net profit for the year ending 31 January to €1.73bn (£1.5bn).

Sales worldwide soared by 13 per cent to €12.53bn, Inditex said in a statement, with the fastest growing revenue source in Asia.

The clothing giant announced that it was looking to open between 460 and 500 stores this year to add to its 3,044 stores in 77 countries.

Plans include at least 120 new stores in China, where it already owns 143 outlets, around half of which opened during 2010.

Asia saw one of the most rapid rates of expansion last year with the group’s retail presence there growing to 645 stores, accounting for 15 per cent of sales.

The group, whose other brands include youth label Bershka and upmarket Massimo Dutti, will also move into new markets such as Australia and South Africa this year as well as launching online Zara stores in both Japan and the United States.

“Our priority remains to focus our growth in Europe and Asia. 2011 will be a year of strong acceleration in China,” said Inditex chief executive Pablo Isa, who took over the post in July from Amancio Ortega, the group’s founder and Spain’s richest man.

“Asia should continue gaining around three percentage points per year in terms of its contribution to sales.”

Shares in the company rose by five per cent in Madrid after the annual figures were released.