H&M accelerates store opening programme

Fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) has increased the number of stores it plans to open this year.

The rise comes despite gloomy consumer sentiment, adverse weather and losses from currency effects.

H&M had previously said it would open 275 stores in the year to November, but has now raised that figure to 300.

The Swedish retailer reported pre-tax profits of 4.90bn kronor ($743m; £459m) for the third quarter, up from 4.85bn kronor in the same period last year.

But the results were worse than expected and the shares fell in Frankfurt.

US online delay

"Conditions in the fashion retail industry continued to be challenging in many markets - both as regards the weather and the macro-economic climate," said H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson.

"The profit increase in the third quarter was damped by large negative currency translation effects."

The Swedish currency strengthened considerably against the euro during the three months from June to August.

H&M said currency effects had cost it 200m kroner more in the third quarter of this year than it had in the same period of 2011.

It has also announced a delay to the roll-out of its online store in the US until next summer.

"It's a little bit troubling because it's the second time they've delayed this," said Rahul Sharma from the retail consultancy Neev Capital.

"The fact that you're having some teething troubles continuing is not a good sign."

H&M is the world's second largest clothing retailer by sales, after Spain's Inditex, which owns Zara.

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