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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 21:15 GMT
H&M benefits from Lagerfeld link
Model with Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld has found a market among real women
Swedish fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz has seen fourth-quarter profits rise 22% - boosted by strong demand for its premium-priced Karl Lagerfeld range.

The range of coats, frocks, blouses and skirts by Chanel designer Lagerfeld sold out within hours of its November launch in some stores.

Profits for the company came in at 2.76bn kronor ($396m; 210m) compared to 2.27bn kronor a year ago.

Sales in the three months to the end of November rose 14% to 15.9bn kronor.

Designer tantrum

Model in H&M clothes
Lagerfeld items are priced above the usual H&M range

The company's use of a named designer proved controversial after Lagerfeld implied he was used to designing for models rather than H&M usual customers.

But the company and the designer appeared to reconcile their differences.

H&M's fourth-quarter profits were above expectations and its shares, which are listed on the OM Stockholm Stock Exchange, closed nearly 1% higher on Friday.

In the US, a key market, the company said fourth-quarter sales were up 24% in dollar terms.

Expansion plans

H&M now has more than 1,000 stores around the world, adding Canadian and Slovenian sites during the year, as well as continuing to expand in Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Italy.

During this year, it will open at least 145 new stores - including its first in Dublin and Hungary - and close 12, it said.

For the full year, net profits rose 15% to 7.27 billion kronor. Sales for the year increased by 11%, to 53.7 billion kronor, excluding sales tax.

The company said it had benefited from a weaker dollar and improved controls on production which had enabled it to lower prices to customers while increasing gross profits.

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