The opening of 456 new stores in the first nine months of its financial year has helped Spanish retailer Inditex, owner of the Zara fashion chain, to a 2% rise in profit for the period.

Europe's biggest clothing seller said results for the six weeks since the beginning of its fourth quarter show a similar pattern of growth.

Net income in the nine months to 31 October rose to EUR843m (US$1.12bn) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 5% to EUR€1.55bn.

Sales at Inditex, whose brands include Zara, Pull and Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius and Oysho, were up 11% to EUR7.35bn at its 4,147 stores in 71 countries.

The group, which is debt free, said its net cash position has increased 9% in the nine months to EUR525m.

This has funded its rapid expansion, with a move into Montenegro and a doubling of its shops in Russia, among the highlights.