Zara owner Inditex has appointed a new UK and Ireland managing director to replace Stefano Sutter, who has been moved from his role to run other European markets for the Spanish fashion giant. 

Sutter, who joined from the group’s Canadian arm in July 2007, will be replaced by Inditex UK commercial director Dilip Patel.

Sutter will become managing director for Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. He joined Inditex in 2005.

Patel has worked at the fashion retailer since 2000 and joined the commercial department, which controls expansion in the UK and Ireland, in 2003.

Sutter has overseen the opening of several high-profile stores since taking up his role in the UK two years ago, including a new concept Zara store at Oxford Circus last year. The more boutique-style format will be rolled out to all of its UK stores in the next few years. He also oversaw the opening of the first UK store for Inditex’s young casualwear fascia Pull and Bear at the Liverpool One centre.

Earlier this year the first standalone UK Zara Kids fascia opened in London’s Covent Garden.

Inditex declined to comment.

Inditex, which also owns fashion brands Bershka, Massimo Dutti and newly launched accessories format Uterqüe, has defied the general economic downturn, managing to achieve growth across all of its 73 markets last year. The group believes that its fast-fashion model has kept it ahead of its rivals in a very challenging market.

Inditex’s profits remained flat in the year to January 31 at €1.25bn  (£1.07bn) while sales in local currencies jumped 12 per cent. 

Next week Inditex will report on its first quarter. Bernstein senior analyst Luca Solca expects Inditex to report a net income fall of about 10.5 per cent on last year to €196m (£168.5m). Total revenue is expected to grow by 7.4 per cent.

Inditex is also expected to open 2.5 million sq ft of new space this year. Both in the UK and internationally it is expected by analysts to continue to increase its presence and market share.

Inditex has about 4,300 stores worldwide with almost 90 stores in the UK including 63 Zara stores.