The world's biggest fashion retailer, Hennes & Mauritz, on Wednesday reported a 43 per cent leap in annual pre-tax profits but said its expansion in the US this year will be slower than planned.

Announcing pre-tax profits of 5.734 billion Swedish crowns for the year ended November 30 2001, the retail giant also revealed it plans to open 90 new stores in the US, UK, Germany, Spain and France during 2002 and close 10 existing outlets.