Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz AB on Wednesday posted a 37 per cent leap in second quarter pre-tax profits to $220 million thanks to strong performances from its US and German markets.

The operator of 801 stores in 14 countries said in a statement that total turnover was up 13 per cent while German sales climbed 10 per cent. For the first half, profits jumped 56 per cent to $349m.

It also revealed it plans to open 55 new retail outlets by the end of the year, mainly in the US, UK, Spain, France and Germany.

H&M added that its gross margin rose 1.5 percentage points in the second quarter to 54.6 per cent from the first quarter.

"The improvement is principally due to a lower level of price reductions," it said. "The increased part of purchases during the season has to a large extent contributed to the lower price reductions."

It continued: "The H&M Group has in the second quarter improved the result and the operating margin in all markets compared with the same period last year. The focusing on increased efficiency in the American operation has had effect during the quarter with lower operating expenses and a better adjusted stock-in-trade and consequently a strong result improvement in the USA."