ZARA, the Spanish company famous for its ability to get designs from the catwalks to the shop floor in weeks, plans to start selling clothes here over the internet, within months.
The company, owned by Spanish group Inditex, made the announcement yesterday as it unveiled a 68pc rise in first-half net profit to €628m, driven by a pick-up in demand across Europe and Asia.
Its shares, which had risen 36pc this year to a record high of €59.29 earlier this week, slipped yesterday, partly on news that current sales-growth had slowed in recent weeks.
Inditex said it was satisfied with the response to its initial launch of Zara online sales earlier this month, adding it would extend the offer to Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The company already sells in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the UK. Zara is 'liked' by more than 4.5m people on Facebook and the clothing company is now seeking to convert those fans into customers. The number of searches for Zara.com has more than doubled since online shopping at the site was launched at the start of September, according to Google Trends.
Online stores add to, rather than cannibalise physical stores, hence they tend to bring in additional sales, according to industry observers.
At a Zara store in an upmarket Madrid shopping centre, displaying its autumn range, including cashmere overcoats at €239 and faux sheepskin gilets at €99.95, 25-year-old student Angela O'Connor said she would use the online site to look at what was on offer, but would continue visiting stores.
"It is a great idea, you can see the clothes first, even if you come and buy them physically in the shop," she said.