RPT-H&M speeds up expansion as Q1 pretax lags consensus

STOCKHOLM, March 21 Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:12am EDT

STOCKHOLM, March 21 (Reuters) - Hennes & Mauritz, the world's second-biggest fashion retailer, posted on Thursday a slightly bigger drop than expected in fiscal first-quarter pretax earnings and said it would open more stores this year than previously planned.

H&M, whose biggest rival is Zara owner Inditex, said it now planned to open around 350 new stores this fiscal year, compared with the 325 previously planned.

Pretax profit in the December-February period was 3.23 billion crowns ($499.9 million), down from a year-earlier 3.70 billion and below a mean forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts for 3.26 billion. ($1 = 6.4615 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Stockholm Newsroom)

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