STOCKHOLM Jan 30 Hennes & Mauritz, the
world's second biggest fashion retailer, said it was optimistic
for 2014 even after it reported disappointing fourth-quarter
The Swedish budget fashion retailer posted a pre-tax profit
of 7.3 billion Swedish crowns ($1.13 billion), missing average
analyst forecasts for 7.6 billion. The gross margin also
disappointed, slipping to 60.8 percent from 61.6 percent.
H&M, which had already reported quarterly sales, said it
expected sales to rise 15 percent in January in local currencies
after they rose 10 percent in December, the first month of its
fiscal first quarter.
"Although there are still macro-economic challenges in
several of our markets, we are optimistic about 2014 which will
be an exciting year with new countries and new opportunities,"
Chief Executive Karl-Johan Persson said in a statement.
H&M, harder hit by the European downturn than its bigger
rival Zara-owner Inditex which has more stores in
emerging markets, said it expected to open 375 stores in 2014,
including entering new markets Australia and the Philippines.