Zara owner Inditex has today reported a 2% rise in full-year profit 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 on sales of €26.15 billion, slightly lower than analysts' expectations. 

Unlike many in the troubled fashion 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% in 2018, reaching €3.2 billion, or 12% of sales. 

Inditex estimated total like-for-like sales growth of between 4-6% for this financial year. 

Sales in shops and online at constant exchange rates rose 7% in the first weeks of the new financial year, from February 1 to March 9.

Cash-rich Inditex said the total dividend for the financial year would be 0.88 euro per share, an increase of 17%.