LA CORUNA (Reuters) - Zara owner Inditex reported a 2 percent rise in full-year profit on Wednesday as it launched Zara online into 106 new markets in November and benefited from favourable comparisons to unseasonably cold weather last year.
The world's biggest clothing retailer reported profits of 3.44 billion euros (£2.96 billion) on sales of 26.15 billion euros, slightly lower than analysts' expectations.
Unlike many in the troubled apparel sector, Inditex has been able to avoid heavy discounting thanks to its tightly controlled inventory and its ability to get looks on sale in a few weeks allowing it to respond to fast-changing trends.
Online sales grew by 27 percent in 2018, reaching 3.2 billion euros, or 12 percent of sales. Inditex estimated total like-for-like sales growth of between 4 to 6 percent for this financial year.
Sales in shops and online at constant exchange rates rose 7 percent in the first weeks of the new financial year, from Feb. 1 to March 9.
Cash-rich Inditex said the total dividend for the financial year would be 0.88 euros per share, an increase of 17 percent.
(Reporting By Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Paul Day)