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H&M looking for more stores around the world

Fashion giant H&M revealed plans to keep up its global expansion drive with more stores and new online markets after hiking annual sales and profits.

The Stockholm-based group opened more than one store a day in 2013 and plans to add another 375 in 2014, extending its footprint to Australia and the Philippines and launching online in countries including France.

H&M outlined the growth targets as it posted an 11% rise in profits to 7.3 billion Swedish kronor (£682 million) for the year to November 30.

It said this came despite tough economic conditions and aggressive discounting in many markets.

Sales across its 245 UK stores rose 3% in sterling terms over the year, boosted by an 11% surge in the final three months.

Group-wide sales lifted 13% in the fourth quarter, up 3% on a like-for-like basis, and H&M said the new financial year had "got off to a good start".

Sales in December rose 10% and growth is expected to pick up to 15% in January.

Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive of H&M, said: "Although there are still macroeconomic challenges in several of our markets, we are optimistic about 2014 which will be an exciting year with new countries and new opportunities."

The chain now has more than 3,100 stores in 53 countries and employs just over 116,000 staff.

It has been broadening its offer amid competition from budget rivals such as Primark, having launched "& Other Stories" as a new fascia for the business and developing new product lines, such as H&M Sport and H&M Home.

China and the US have as been its largest markets for expansion in recent years, but it continues to set its sights on new territories with aims to launch stores in another two countries after the end of its current financial year.

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