Two of the world's most recognisable retail brands deliver strong sales growth, upmarket Burberry and H&M at the budget end both showing signs of confidence returning to consumers. Hayley Platt reports.
Britain's Burberry credits its distinctive trench coats and scarfs for 'robust' growth in the second half of the year. Total revenues rose 9 percent to $2.1 billion. While underlying retail sales grew 13 percent. Trading was strongest in the US and Europe, which helped offset weaker markets like in Asia. The firm also said it had benefitted from favourable exchange rates. Encouraging signs, says BGC's Mike Ingram. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, market analyst, BGC Partners, saying (English): "They paint a picture of a European consumer that is coming back from the dead and also a reasonably buoyant position in the US and of course a strong dollar is certainly helping Burberry's earnings which are booked into sterling." H&M, the world's second-largest clothing retailer, also reported strong growth. Sales in March rose 10 percent, analysts expecting 7.5 percent. It's the Swedish firm's sixth straight month of double-digit growth. Boosting shares by 1.5 per cent in morning trading. Sustainability though is the question on everyone's lips. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, market analyst, BGC Partners, saying (English): "There was a significant scale back in the growth forecasts for the US. A bit of an upgrade for the European Union, but from a low base, so if anyone can hand on their heart say I think that the global economy and the consumer is going to be in good shape in 3-5 years time I would say 'well have you got a crystal ball?'." Both retailers have big expansion plans. H&M is to open 400 new stores this year, mostly in China and the United States. And Burberry has already opened seven new stores in the US and Japan.