July 16, 2012 / 6:53 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-H&M defies European gloom with sales rise

* Comparable annual sales growth 3 pct in June

* Sales growth unchanged from previous month

* Total sales growth 13 pct

* Analyst: H&M is taking market share (Adds detail, background)

STOCKHOLM, July 16 (Reuters) - Hennes & Mauritz, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, grew annual sales at established stores in June, in a sign of robust demand for budget clothing from austerity-hit shoppers.

The Swedish budget fashion firm said on Monday sales growth at stores open a year or more was steady in the month - the first of its fiscal third quarter - at 3 percent in local currencies.

That, however, undershot a Reuters poll forecast for a 5 percent rise.

Total sales were up 13 percent from a year earlier compared with a mean forecast for a 14 percent increase.

“The company delivers good figures despite the global worries. They are clearly taking market shares,” said Nordea analyst Stefan Stjernholm.

Fast-expanding H&M, which does the bulk of its business in Europe and trails Zara owner Inditex by market value and turnover, said the number of stores in its 44 markets amounted to 2,596 at the end of the month.

In Germany, H&M’s single biggest market by far, the overall clothing market was down 2 percent, according to industry data.

In May and in the fiscal first half of the year, H&M’s like-for-like sales were up 3 percent, and total sales 12 percent.

In the second quarter, H&M grew profits more than expected helped by its low-price focus, easing input prices and broadening geographic spread.

Inditex, too, defied the economic gloom in its second quarter, proving it can sell to both fashion-hungry shoppers in emerging Asia and cash-strapped consumers in Europe.

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Love Liman; Editing by Mark Potter

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