Clothing giant Hennes & Mauritz has reported a lower-than-forecast 7 per cent increase in September sales after unseasonably warm weather hampered demand for knitwear and outdoor apparel.

The increase - about half of what analysts had predicted - compares with 10 per cent growth in September last year and 17 per cent growth in August 2005.

H&M said the effects of the warmer weather in Continental Europe had been "particularly noticeable in Germany, Austria and Switzerland."

"Sales on the Scandinavian markets have, however, been good", the company added.