Spain's Inditex says to expand in Australia, South Africa
Spain's Inditex, Europe's largest clothing retailer, said Tuesday it would move into Australia and South Africa next year as the Zara owner pushes ahead with its aggressive international expansion.
The decision to enter the two new markets was announced at the company's annual general meeting at its headquarters at Arteixo in northwestern Spain, it said in a statement.
Of the 343 new stores that the retailer, whose other brands include Massimo Dutti and Bershka, opened last year, 98 percent were outside of Spain.
Inditex opened its first stores in Syria in 2009 while so far this year it has exanded into Bulgaria, India and Kazakhstan, brining the total number of markets in which it is present to 77.
It plans to open between 365 and 425 stores this year.
The company posted a net profit of 1.31 billion euros (1.65 billion dollars) in 2009, up from 1.25 billion euros in the previous year.
Sales in Spain, where the jobless rate has soared to 20 percent since the collapse of a property bubble at the end of 2008, accounted for 31.8 percent of total sales last year, compared with 33.9 percent in the previous year.
Inditex chief executive Pablo Isla told the gathering that Inditex will launch Zara online in Japan, South Korea and the United States in 2011.
The company had already announced plans to start selling items from its flagship Zara outlets in six European countries -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal -- in September.
It plans to eventually have online stores in all the markets where it has physical stores.
-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --
© 2010 AFP