Fashion retailer Inditex has reported double digit growth in sales over the first nine-months of the year, after a significant period of new store openings.

The company, which owns Zara, said that net sales increased by 14% in from 1 February to 31 October - to EUR8,866m. Nine-month net income rose by 42% from the same period a year earlier to EUR1,179m. Gross profit climbed by 20% to EUR5,307m, bringing the gross margin to 59.9%.

Inditex expanded its retail network with 300 new stores in 45 countries in the first nine months. Consequently, as of 31 October the group reached a total number of stores of 4,907 stores in 77 countries. Inditex reached the 5,000-store milestone on 9 December when it inaugurated the eco-efficient Zara store in Rome's Palazzo Bocconi.

A key highlight of this expansion is the group's number of store openings in Asian markets. In the period, Zara unveiled eight new stores in Japan, eight in South Korea and 42 stores in China.

In China, the group opened stores in cities such as Chengdu, Xian, Shenyang, Dalian, Chongqing, Hohhot, Wuhan and Xiamen, in addition to a store in the Hong Kong airport. The group now operates in 28 cities across China, with 140 stores of the Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius and Pull&Bear concepts. The group's remaining commercial formats are scheduled to be launched in China in 2011.

Store sales in local currencies climbed by 10% between 1 August and December 12, the company added.