Popular Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz reported better-than-expected first-quarter profits this week, lifted in part by fewer price cuts on its clothing. The retailer reported a net profit for the quarter ended February 28 of nearly SEK 1.1 billion (GBP 82 million) up from SEK 767.2 million (GBP 58.2m) in the same period a year earlier.

Sales rose to SEK12.6 billion (GBP 96m) compared to SEK 11.2 billion (GBP 85m) a year earlier, in line with the retailer's target of annual sales growth between 10 percent and 15 percent. H&M gets nearly 90 percent of its sales from outside of Sweden.

H&M, known for its inexpensive but trendy clothing, operates 849 stores in 14 countries and employs more than 25,670 workers.

Earlier this year, the company said it would open 110 more stores in Europe and the United States in 2003. In the second quarter, it will open 47 stores and close three.

The company also is expanding its presence in Eastern Europe, opening five stores in Poland and three in the Czech Republic this year.


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