Pre-tax profits at H&M rose 6 per cent to SEK5.78bn (£447m) in the second quarter to the end of May.

The figures were marginally ahead of expectations.

Sales excluding VAT rose 23 per cent to SEK26.5bn (£2.05bn), an 8 per cent increase in local currencies and a fall of 2 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Gross margins were 61 per cent over the quarter, impacted 1.3 percentage points because of currency fluctuations.

Sales in May fell 9 per cent on a like-for-like basis, although H&M attributed between 4 and 5 per cent of the decline to calendar effects. The month’s figures were compared with a 23 per cent rise in sales recorded in May 2008.

Sales for the first half were up 21% to SEK 49.8bn (£3.86bn), or 6 per cent in local currencies. Comparable sales fell 3 per cent over the six month period.

Pre-tax profits for the first half fell by 2% to SEK 9.3bn (£721.2m).

H&M, which had 1,822 stores as of the end of last month, opened 93 stores and closed nine stores over the first half, over which period sales grew 21 per cent to SEK49.8bn (£3.86bn). Like-for-likes dropped 3 per cent over the half.