UPDATE 1-Marimekko sees 2013 operating profit flat at best

Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:58am EST

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HELSINKI Jan 31 (Reuters) - Finnish clothing retailer Marimekko said a weak European economy was hitting sales, and forecast 2013 operating profit to be flat at best.

The company, known for its colourful prints, said on Thursday that while an expansion in Asian and U.S. markets would help sales grow over 5 percent in 2013, operating profit would be lower or at the same level as last year.

Fourth-quarter operating profit fell 99 percent, it said.

Last week, Marimekko said weak consumer spending and higher-than-expected expansion costs hit profitability in 2012. It opened 19 new stores last year, including 12 outside Finland.

It said on Thursday it would step up its expansion into markets beyond Finland where it is one of the most ubiquitous brands.

(Reporting by Helsinki Newsroom; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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