Hennes & Mauritz AB, the world's biggest fashion retailer by market capitalisation, said in a statement Friday that Group sales in January rose eight per cent year-on-year. The company said its gross margin continued to improve considerably, thanks to lower price reductions than in January 2001, but gave no precise figures or the January sales value. Sales in January 2001 rose 22 per cent on the year, according to figures the company provided last month.