Budget fashion firm Hennes & Mauritz generated a slightly bigger rise than expected in sales last month, offering some support to company guidance that results in the second half of the year were likely to be stronger than in the first. Hayley Platt reports
The latest sales figures at H&M look promising. The budget fashion firm delivered a slightly bigger than expected rise in July of 10 percent. It's still down on the year earlier - marking the 10th month of slower growth amid a tough but improving retail environment. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALEX DRYDEN, GLOBAL MARKET STRATEGIST, JP MORGAN,SAYING: "The unemployment rate within Europe is beginning to slide. Consumer confidence has picked up and you're starting to see that reflected in things like H&M retail sales. That's a sign that consumer's are becoming healthier, they're going out spending a little bit more." H&M admits it hasn't been easy. Profits have shrunk for the last three consecutive quarters, squeezed by big mark downs and its commitment to invest in online technology and new brands. Higher purchasing costs in Asia due to a stronger dollar have also been a factor. But many analysts see better times ahead. With H&M returning to profit growth from the fourth quarter helped by improved currency effects. H&M says it's confident the second half of the year will be better. Although that could depend on the weather - the summer's been disappointing - and that's one factor even the world's second biggest fashion retailer has no control over.