Swedish fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) reported a 6% increase in profit-after-tax to SEK3, 622m ($551m) for the third quarter (Q3) of 2012.

Gross profit for the reporting period increased 6% to SEK 16,771m ($ 2,551m), compared to SEK15, 766m ($2,398m) in the same period of 2011; while operating profit for the third quarter totaled to SEK4, 802m ($730.6m).

The retailer’s net sales surged 7.03% to SEK28, 806m ($4,382m) while it’s profit-after-tax for the nine months ending 31 August amounted to SEK11, 580m ($1,761m).

The gross profit for the period increased 10.33% to SEK51, 854m ($7,889m), compared to 46,997 ($7,150m) in 2011 and the operating profit totaled 15,221 ($2,315m).

H&M is looking to expand its retail net work across the globe and plans to open 300 stores in 2012 with stores expected to be unveiled in Russia, Italy, Poland and the UK besides China and US.

The retailer’s first Thailand store via franchise will be opened by the end of September while its first store in Mexico will open towards the end of the financial year.

The Group’s other brands COS, Monki, Weekday and Cheap Monday will also expand its store network.

H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson said that the company foresees significant opportunities for continued growth both in stores and online.

"We are ramping up the rate of expansion for full-year 2012 to 300 new stores net from the previously planned 275, "Persson added.

" We are looking forward to taking our first step into the southern hemisphere next year by opening our first store in South America, which will be a flagship store in Santiago de Chile. "

Founded in Sweden in 1947, H&M GROUP operates under various brands which includes – H&M and H&M Home besides COS, Monki, Weekday and Cheap Monday with a combined 2,600 stores spread over 46 markets.