Sales drop 6pc at Irish outlets of Swedish fashion giant H&M
Sales at the Irish outlets of Swedish fashion retail giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) declined 6pc in the quarter to end February.
Ireland is just one of three locations in which the retailer posted a revenue decline in the period.
Releasing figures yesterday, H&M said sales at its 11 Irish stores dropped from SEK144m to SEK128m (€13.1m) in the last quarter compared to the corresponding quarter in 2009.
The company said the figures represented a 6pc fall in euro terms, and an 11pc fall when translated to Swedish kroner.
Only Ireland, Belgium and Slovenia reported declines in local currency sales for the period. Sales in Belgium were down 3pc, while Slovenia experienced a 6pc drop.
Group sales at H&M, which is Europe's second-largest clothes retailer after Zara owner Inditex, rose 7pc to SEK24.8bn (€2.55bn) in the three months to the end of February.
Profit after tax jumped 42pc to SEK5.05bn (€520m), buoyed by a weaker dollar which helped to lower purchasing costs.
The group's gross margin improved to 61.9pc from 56.6pc a year earlier.
H&M shares were trading up about 4pc in Stockholm early yesterday, having risen 23pc so far this year.
The chain opened its first shop in Ireland back in 2005, at the Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin.
H&M generated sales of SEK557 (€53m) in Ireland in the 12 months to the end of last November.
Meanwhile, international sales at Marks & Spencer's declined 5.9pc during the fourth quarter as the group was hit by what it described as "particularly difficult trading conditions" in Ireland and Greece.
The downbeat assessment of the group's global arm came as its UK operations fared better, with like-for-like sales rising 5.1pc in the 13 weeks to March 27.
However, the performance failed to impress investors who were concerned about a softening of margins.
Meanwhile, M&S also said yesterday that pre-tax profit for the full year just ended will be between £620m (€464m) and £630m (€471m) -- below an analyst consensus estimate of £632m (€473m).
M&S operates 20 stores in Ireland, which is one of its biggest international operational areas.
Last year, it announced plans to double the number of stores here within the next 10 years.