• FY net profit up 22% to EUR2.3bn
  • Net sales rise 16% to EUR15.9bn
  • Like-for-like sales up 6%

Fashion retail giant Inditex, owner of the Zara brand, recorded a 22% increase in net profit in fiscal 2012, boosted by a double-digit sales increase and nearly 500 new store openings.

Like-for-like sales were up 6% in the year to 31 January, and Inditex broke through the 6,000 store barrier by opening 482 new outlets in 64 markets, including new entries to Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Georgia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Inditex highlighted its opening of 75 new stores in Russia, as well as strong growth in Poland (38 new stores for a total of 205), Romania (16 and 88 respectively), France (14 and 259), Germany (13 and 91), Turkey (11 and 146) and the Netherlands (7 and 42).

Updating on recent performance, Inditex said store sales in local currencies were up 12% in the period from 1 February to 11 March.

The company said it planned to open 440-480 new stores in 2013.

Joseph Robinson, lead consultant at retail analyst Conlumino, says Inditex continues to benefit from a focus on diversifying its store portfolio away from difficult European markets, along with its industry-leading model and low debt base.

But he notes: "With the global economic outlook remaining poor, Inditex faces a significant challenge to deliver such a stellar performance in 2013.

"The main danger for Inditex remains in expanding too quickly in what remains a turbulent global economy.

"However, the group has displayed a strong flexibility in its approach to different markets and has shown an ability to react it changing environments. In the UK for example, the group - primarily through its flagship Zara fascia - has been ideally positioned to capitalise on a consumer trend of consumers looking to purchase fewer, higher quality items."

He also points out the retailer is well placed to benefit from a strong pipeline of new store openings, "with a particular focus on better performing emerging economies, where it has less of a presence.

"Elsewhere, its late entry into the online arena, at a time when many of its key competitor's offers are beginning to mature, is providing another strong avenue for growth."