European young fashion darling to build on recent sales gains
European fashion giant H&M plans to open up to 160 stores next year.

Initial analyst forecasts estimate that the chain would see 133 store openings from December of this year. However, the figures mentioned by the retailer far exceed these expectations.

The New Year will see the company move into new markets in the Republic of Ireland and Hungary, edging nearer to stealing Marks & Spencer's European clothing crown.

H&M spokeswoman Liv Asarnoj said: 'Our growth strategy will see the opening of 10 to 15 per cent more stores within the next year, although the official number will be published in our report.'

H&M's full-year results will be published on January 28, 2005.