Zara owner Inditex sees profits jump as sales soar
Annual profits at Inditex, the owner of Zara and Bershka, have soared by almost €500m following a 8.5% rise in like-for-like sales.
The world's biggest clothing retailer reported pre-tax profits of €3.74bn (£2.89bn) for 2015.
It opened another 330 stores last year to bring the total to just over 7,000 in 88 markets.
The Spanish company said it would continue to expand its integrated store and online sales strategy globally.
Inditex plans to open stores in Vietnam, New Zealand, Paraguay, Aruba and Nicaragua this year.
The results, which were in line with analysts' expectations, were boosted by the weakness of the euro against a basket of around 60 currencies.
Net sales rose 15.4% to €20.9bn, with the Zara chain posting a 17.5% increase to €13.6bn.
Bershka sales were up 12.7% to €1.87bn, making it the second-biggest chain for Inditex, followed by Massimo Dutti with sales of almost €1.5bn, up 6%. Sales at Pull & Bear jumped by 10.4% to €1.41bn.
The company had 152,854 full-time equivalent staff last year, up from 137,054.
Inditex also reported a strong start to the new financial year that began in February, with a 15% rise in sales - better than Societe Generale's forecast of a 12% increase.
Items including broderie anglaise blouses and floral lace dresses from Zara's spring collection have proved popular with consumers.
Shares in the Madrid-listed company, which have fallen more than 10% in the past three months partly due to concerns about currency movements affecting profits, rose 0.6% to €29.59 in morning trading.
Inditex, which has a market value of almost €92bn, said it would increase its dividend by 15.4% to €0.60 a share.