Spanish fashion retailer Inditex, owner of the Zara chain, has reported a 3% rise in first-half profit to EUR406m (US$577m), helped by the addition of new stores.
  
Total sales for the group, which also operates eight concepts including the Massimo Dutti and Bershka chains, climbed 12.3% to EUR4.6bn from EUR4.1bn. Like-for-like sales were up by 1%.

International sales accounted for 65.2% of the total, with market launches in the Ukraine and South Korea during the first six months.

Inditex said it plans to open more than 500 stores Asian and Eastern European markets over the next two years.

Its sales in Russia and China have increased 64% compared with the first half of 2007, and sales in Asia and Eastern Europe have risen from 11% to 16.9% of the total over the last two years.

Western Europe made the greatest contribution to group operations, representing 37.5% of the total sales, "very much ahead of Spain", Inditex said. Sales in the Americas rose 10.8%.

Globally, Inditex opened 249 stores between 1 February and 31 July this year, with its total number of outlets now standing at 4,000 stores.

The company said that the second half has so far seen a good reception for its autumn-winter collections.