H&M plans 400 new stores after strong annual results

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Heavy Investment in new ranges and an ambitious expansion plan has resulted in a missed earnings forecast for fashion retailer H&M.

The brand, which recently announced a new menswear range in partnership with David Beckham, said pre-tax profit for the three months to November 2014 rose seven per cent to 7.8bn Swedish Krona (£623.9m).

While the high street giant’s final quarter earnings were 160m Krona below analysts’ average forecasts, it posted positive full year results.

Total sales grew 14 per cent, while profit after financial items was up 3.4bn Krona to 25.9bn for the year.

The brand added a total of 379 stores to its portfolio last year, mainly in the US and China, bringing its total stores to 3,511 across 55 markets.

It now plans to add around 400 stores in 2014/2015.

Most of the expansion will take place on existing markets, the brand said, though Taiwan, Peru, Macau, South Africa and India will become new H&M markets in 2015.

H&M will also begin to offer online services in Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland this year.

In addition to its celebrity-endorsed ranges, the H&M Beauty brand will be launched late in the year, initially in 900 stores and online.

Chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said 2015 would be “another exciting year”, with strong sales already seen in December and January.

He said: “We will make sure that we always have the best customer offering in each individual market in terms of fashion, quality, price and sustainability, which form the basis of our business idea.”