The world's biggest clothing group, Spain's Inditex which controls the Zara brand, posted Wednesday a record 2012 net profit as strong sales abroad, especially in Asia, and a global expansion offset belt-tightening by its domestic consumers.
The company said its 2012 net profit rose 22 percent to 2.36 billion euros ($3.07 billion) in the 12 months ending on January 31 while sales were up 16 percent to 15.9 billion euros.
Inditex, founded 40 years ago in Arteixo, Galicia, by billionaire Amancio Ortega, the son of a railwayman, reported a net opening of 482 stores during the period, including 121 in China and its first outlets in Armenia, Bosnia, Ecuador, Georgia and Macedonia.
The company, whose other brands include teen label Bershka, higher-cost offering Massimo Dutti and casual line Pull and Bear, now has 6,009 stores in 86 countries.
Spain, which is undergoing a double-dip recession, accounted for 21 percent of its sales, down from 25 percent in the previous 12-month period while the rest of Europe aaccounted for 45 percent of its sales, the same as in the same year-ago period.
Asia accounted for 20 percent of the company's sales, up from 18 percent.
Store sales rose 12 per cent between February 1 to March 11, compared with the same period last year.
The company plans to open between 440 and 480 new shops around the world in 2013.
Ortega vaulted from fifth into the third spot in the Forbes list of global billionaires last year, making him the biggest gainer.