H&M gross margin hit by discounting

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Fast fashion retailer H&M has committed to opening new stores in 2014 after it released disappointing results for the fourth quarter (Q4).

CEO Karl-Johan Persson said the retailer opened more than a store every day in 2013 and plans to match that figure this year.

“We plan to open around 375 new stores net (in 2014) and Australia and the Philippines will become new H&M countries. In addition to these countries, a couple of other new H&M markets are planned to open at the end of 2014,” he said.

However, Q4 results were below analyst’s expectations after its decision to slash prices with pre-Christmas discounting and rising cotton prices hit profits. Its gross margin also narrowed to 60.8 per cent from 61.6 per cent a year earlier as it struggled to keep up with the frantic growth of Primark and Asos.

It added it would continue to focus on sustainable clothing through its H&M conscious brand.

Net income rose 6.1 per cent to 5.61bn kronor ($869m) in the three months ended Nov. 30, while shares in H&M fell 3.8 per cent.

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