H&M has seen operating profit hit SEK 725m (\u00a356.4m) in its first quarter of trading, up from SEK 458m (\u00a335.6m) the prior year, boosted by the earnings of second-hand platform Sellpy.\u00a0\r\n\r\nSellpy, which is one of Europe\u2019s largest second-hand platforms, has been consolidated into the group in the first quarter, contributing around SEK 1 billion (\u00a377m) of earnings in the period.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIn the quarter ended 28 February, group sales rose by 12% to SEK 54,872m (\u00a34.82bn), with a rise of 3% in local currencies. Excluding Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, this would be an increase of 16% in SEK and 7% in local currencies.\u00a0\r\n\r\nElsewhere, the group\u2019s portfolio brands \u2013 COS, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories and Arket \u2013 developed \u201cstrongly\u201d with a sales growth of 19% in SEK and 11% in local currencies, as they made an \u201cincreasingly important contribution to the group\u2019s growth\u201d.\r\n\r\nFor the H&M brand, investments in areas such as tech, AI and the supply chain reportedly improved precision and faster response times. The group also noted that H&M womenswear was attracting \u201cmore and more customers\u201d in particular.\u00a0\r\n\r\nOverall, despite a \u201cchallenging\u201d market, the group said external factors that influence purchasing costs have continued to improve. It added that work on its cost cutting and efficiency programme is \u201cproceeding at full speed\u201d, with changes made in recent years now \u201cstarting to have an effect\u201d.\r\n\r\nThe group added it has a \u201crobust\u201d financial position, stable cash flow and a well-balanced inventory, and that its increased level of investment across the group makes it \u201cwell placed for continued sustainable and profitable growth\u201d.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHelena Helmersson, CEO, said: \u201cThe H&M group continues to stand strong with a robust financial position, stable cash flow and a well-balanced inventory. The start of the year shows that we have taken further steps towards the goal of achieving an operating margin of 10% already next year.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nLooking ahead, sales in local currencies for March are expected to increase by 4% compared with the same period last year.\u00a0\r\n\r\nH&M noted that the start of the spring season has been delayed in many important markets as a result of cold weather, but that spring collections have been well received in places where the weather has warmed up.