H&M sales in Croatia rise 4% in FY 2016

For fashion retail in general, 2016 was at the same time a challenging year in which various external factors - including geopolitical events - had a negative impact on retail trade in many markets.

"We welcomed more than 13,000 new colleagues which means there are now more than 161,000 colleagues in the group", said CEO Karl-Johan Persson.

In the local currency, H&M sales in Croatia grew 2% over the review period, the company said in its financial report for 2016 starting December 1 and ending on November 30.

During the fourth quarter, the company ventured into new markets - Cyprus and New Zealand, as well as rolled out H&M online platforms in Canada and South Korea.

Profit after financial items amounted to 24,039 million Swedish krona (2,721 million dollars) compared to 27,242 million Swedish krona (3,083 million dollars) previous year. Gross profit increased from last year, while gross margin dropped to 57 percent from prior year's 57.5 percent.

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H&M said the local-market targets will allow it to account for both online and in-store sales.

The H&M group's sales including Value-Added Tax in December 2016 increased by 6 percent in local currencies compared to the same month the previous year.

Further, the company said its Board of Directors proposed a dividend of 9.75 kronor per share for the 2015/2016 financial year.

Pedestrians and shoppers pass in front of a Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) store in NY, U.S., on Monday, July 18, 2016.

H&M said its new target is to increase local-currency sales by 10 to 15 percent annually with continued high profitability.

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Mr Persson said the company was continuing to develop a strong online presence and was planning stores in Kazakhstan, Colombia, Iceland, Vietnam and Georgia.

H&M said on Tuesday it would roll out e-commerce in six more markets this year, taking it online in 41 of the 69 it is present in.

Instead, H&M will aim to boost sales in every market it operates by 10% to 15% in local currency, both off- and online.

H&M, which operates in 64 markets but whose USA business is its second largest after Germany, has been on a store opening tear for years, including recent new locations in such prime spots as New York's Times Square.

Persson also revealed, however, that it plans to launch brand new fascias as well.

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