The owner of the Zara clothing brand, Inditex, had record sales in the first quarter of 2019 (Emmanuel DUNAND)

Madrid (AFP) – Spanish retail giant Inditex, which owns the Zara clothing brand, said Wednesday that its first-quarter profits rose due to record sales driven by a push to develop its online business.

The company, whose other brands include Massimo Dutti, Pull&Bear, Bershka and Oysho, saw net profit increase by 10 percent year-on-year to 734 million euros ($831 million) between February 1 and April.

The result is in line with the expectations of analysts surveyed by data company Factset, who predicted an average of 736 million euros.

It puts Inditex well ahead of its main rival, Sweden’s H&M, which had a net profit of 77 million in its first quarter.

The Spanish group said in a statement that sales jumped five percent to hit a new high of 5.9 billion euros, “driven by the ongoing digital transformation of its integrated store and online sales platform”.

However, it said that it applied a new accounting standard during this period, without which net profit would have increased seven percent, instead of 10.

The company forecast that sales would increase to between four and six percent this year on a like-for-like basis.

Inditex has been investing heavily in a bid to catch up to internet retail giants, and launched Zara online sales in Brazil in March.

Seventeen more launches are planned for the rest of the year, many of them in the Middle East.

Inditex shares ticked upwards by 0.3 percent in early trading on the Madrid stock exchange, which was down 0.4 percent.

Disclaimer: Validity of the above story is for 7 Days from original date of publishing. Source: AFP.