Zara Reports Strong 2007

Madrid Inditex, the Spanish retail company that owns Zara, on Monday reported a 25% rise in 2007 net profit and said it is upbeat on sales figures for 2008.

The fast-growing company said net profit was 1.25 billion euros ($1.97 billion), ahead of analysts estimates, helped by a weaker dollar and strict cost control, Reuters reported.

Sales in the period grew 15% to $13.07 billion as Inditex aggressively opened stores in fast-growing markets from Russia to China.

Inditex said sales from Feb. 1 to March 23 increased 17% in local currencies, suggesting health among key fast-fashion players in a difficult market.

Last week, rival chain Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) of Sweden said its first-quarter profits gained 28%.

Inditex said it would continue to aggressively roll out stores, particularly in international markets, with $1.49 billion earmarked for expansion during the next 12 months.

Inditex opened 560 stores in 2007. It plans to open between 540 and 640 stores in 2008, with main growth markets including China, Japan and Korea, where it will open its first stores in April.

Inditex will also launch a freestanding accessories concept called Uterque in the second half of the year.